Below are some frequently asked questions regarding contracting with and residing in an assisted living facility.
How do I know if a facility is licensed by the state of Florida?
Ask to see the current license issued by the Agency for Health Care Administration. It should indicate if it is an assisted living facility, adult family care home, or an adult day care center. It should have an effective date and an expiration date. If the assisted living facility has a special license, as mentioned previously, this will be included on the license. You can also check their license status on Facility Locator or the Assisted Living Facility Comparison Tool at FloridaHealthFinder.gov.
Do all ALFs cost the same?
The fees for each facility are set by the provider and can vary depending on the size of the facility, the amenities provided, the specialty licenses the facility has, location and the services the facility provides to its residents. In addition, a facility may have one fee for certain basic services provided to everyone and a second fee to cover additional services you may want or need.
How can I pay for my ALF residency?
Payment for assisted living facilities is most often paid with private funds. However, if you are eligible for some government help or you are covered by long-term care insurance, or other types of assistance such as veteran’s benefits, ask the facility or center if these will be accepted.
For example, if you receive Optional State Supplementation (OSS), an assisted living facility must be eligible to accept OSS residents. You can search for facilities with this bed type at FloridaHealthFinder.gov on Facility Locator under the advanced search heading by clicking the orange bubble next to “Bed Type”and selecting optional state supplementation from the drop down menu before clicking “Search”.
Will I need any paperwork to reside in an ALF?
An ALF will ask a resident to fill out a contract. You can ask for a copy of this paperwork when visiting a facility and take it home with you to read at your leisure. You can also share the paperwork with a friend or family member.
You might want to make an appointment to discuss any questions and concerns you might have and, if possible, take a friend or family member with you, to help you gather information and help you think about your choices. If you ask a question, but do not understand the answer, ask that it be more clearly explained to you.
Before you sign any papers, read them carefully, make sure you understand them and that all of your questions have been answered. When you do sign paperwork, ask for a copy for your own records.
This paperwork lists the services to be provided and the charges. In addition, a contract and a residency agreement include the housing to be provided, optional services and charges, refund and discharge policies, bed hold policy (described later), and other important information.
A resident with behavioral health issues in an assisted living facility with a limited mental health license will have a community living support plan, as well as cooperative agreement that will be established between the assisted living facility and the mental health provider.
A resident living in an assisted living facility with an extended congregate care license will have a service plan. These will describe the specific needs and services for the resident as well as directions for meeting those needs.
Can my monthly rate be increased when I reside in an ALF?
Check the contract to see if the rate is guaranteed, for how long, and under what conditions a contract or residency agreement can be changed or ended. If you are given a verbal guarantee, be sure to get it in writing. A facility is required to give a 30 day written notice of an increase in the monthly rate.
How do you know what activities are offered?
Ask to see a schedule of activities. Are there a variety of activities you would enjoy? Is there transportation available to go to community activities that you choose? Are there planned trips? Ask these questions before you sign a contract so as to live in the most suitable ALF for you.
Are special diets available in ALFs?
Depends on the provider. Make sure to ask whether special meals or diets available, if needed before you sign a contract.
Are nursing services provided in ALFs?
Depends on the facility and what kind of specialty license it holds. Extended Congregate Care and Limited Nursing Service licenses do provide some nursing services. Please note that if you require 24-hour nursing then an assisted living facility is not the appropriate provider for you.
Can I receive health care services from a home health care provider while residing in an ALF?
While you are a resident in an assisted living facility, you can receive services from a home health care provider, if you need them. You can ask the facility if they will help you arrange for these services. You are able to receive these services as long as you continue to meet the requirements to reside in the facility.
How do I make my medical appointments when residing in an ALF?
Before signing a contract with an assisted living facility, make sure to find out whether the facility helps make appointments for medical care and/or provides and arranges for transportation to medical appointments? Make sure to inquire whether there is an additional fee or cost for transportation services.
Are special services offered for persons with dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease) in ALFs?
Before signing a contract with an assisted living facility, ask what special services and activities are available for persons with dementia. You will also want to know if the staff is trained to handle the special needs of residents with dementia and what equipment is utilized to assure that the resident does not wander off.
Do ALFs have a bed hold policy?
Some do. If an assisted living facility agrees in writing to reserve a bed for a resident who is temporarily admitted to a nursing home, hospital, or some other type of health care facility, the agreement should include a bed hold policy and provisions for ending the agreement.
A resident will be required to continue to pay the monthly fee until the bed hold is ended, as described in the written agreement; or until the resident or their legal representative tells the facility in writing that the resident will not return; or if a medical condition prevents the resident from telling the facility and the resident has no legal representative to speak for them.
What are some other questions I might want to ask a facility before signing a contract?
Am I able to choose my room (or apartment) or is it assigned to me?
Will I have my own room or share it with another person?
Will I have a private bathroom or will I share with others?
Will I have a full kitchen or a kitchenette? If so, what will it include?
What are the living room, dining room, and other common areas like?