What Are Resident Care Standards in Assisted Living?

Forbes magazine has developed a succinct and meaningful definition of assisted living:

Assisted living communities are for older adults who want to remain independent in a home-like setting but need non-medical assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, maintaining good hygiene, and toileting. The person in assisted living typically pays monthly rent for a private apartment or room and an additional fee for the level of care needed.

With this definition in mind, you may wonder further what are resident care standards in an assisted living community. In other words, at least at a minimum, you want to know what to expect if you or your aging parent or other loved one is moving into an assisted living community.

Appropriate, Tailored Resident Care and Assistance

The basic standard at an assisted living community is a facility that needs to provide care and assistance that is suitable to the needs of residents. Typically, this means providing assistance with activities of daily living customized on an individual basis. For example, a resident may need assistance with the following:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Meal preparation
  • Laundry
  • Housekeeping

Appropriate Resident Supervision

An assisted living community must offer individualized supervision of each resident in a manner that doesn’t unduly hamper that person’s independence. The level of supervision needs to be commensurate with a resident’s skills and cognitive condition. In other words, a resident of an assisted living community should not be “overly supervised” or unduly restricted in his or her independence. The objective of suitable supervision is to enhance the overall safety of an individual resident and all residents collectively.

Resident Independence and Travel Outside of Facility

Speaking of independence, a resident of an assisted living facility has the right to travel outside the facility as he or she may desire. A resident can spend the day with family and friends away from the facility. Indeed, when it comes to the standards of assisted living care, a resident has the right to go on vacation as he or she may desire.

Maintain Written Record of Resident Matters

An important element of assisted living care standards is written documentation and maintaining appropriate records. State regulations enumerate what types of records an assisted living community needs to maintain. Keep in mind that the state agency that regulates assisted living communities can and will check record keeping at a facility. An example of record keeping is that associated with medication management.

Encourage Residents to Participate in Community Programming

An aspect of life in assisted living is the availability of different types of programming. This includes everything from enrichment programs to entertainment to social events to exercise classes. A resident of an assisted living community has the absolute right to determine whether or not he or she will participate in programming. With that said, because of the benefits that can be derived from activities of this type, an assisted living community should encourage – but, again, not demand – participation in activities that take place in a facility.

Medication Management in Assisted Living

Medication management is another service area within assisted living. There are very specific standards of care associated with medication management in assisted living. These include:

  • Medications must be self-administered by a resident
  • Medications must securely be stored when not in use
  • Medication management includes reminding a resident to take a medication dose
  • Medication management includes making sure that prescriptions are refilled in a timely manner

Assistance in Accessing Medical Care

While assisted living communities are not medical facilities, the resident standard of care ensures that residents can readily access medical care as needed. This includes not only emergency medical care but that associated with preventative care as well. In other words, the assisted living staff is obliged to assist a resident in making medical and dental appointments as needed. In addition, an assisted living facility needs to assist with transport to such appointments as needed (transportation being discussed next).

Transportation for Residents

Many, if not most, residents of an assisted living community no longer drive. One of the service areas of a typical assisted living community is arranging for resident transport for specific purposes. As mentioned a moment ago, this includes transportation to and from medical appointments. Transportation is commonly also provided to convey residents to stores and religious services as desired. As an aside, provided an assisted living resident is duly licensed and can safely operate a motor vehicle, that person is permitted to drive.

Information about resident standards of care in assisted living is available through the state regulatory agency that oversees the operation of these types of long-term care facilities. In addition, this information should be available to a resident (or prospective resident) directly from an assisted living facility itself.