10 Steps to Start a Residential Care Home

Residential care homes, also called personal care homes, group homes, assisted living facilities and family care home are in high demand. These facilities provide non-medical care to adults, usually in a residential community. Residential care homes are designed to provide 24/7 shelter, three daily meals, laundry services, grooming help, medication assistance, and aid with any activities for daily living. Other activities may include exercise, religious services, outdoor trips, arts and crafts, and movie nights.

The process to open a licensed care home facility can be overwhelming, scary, and for many it’s stepping into unknown territory. Knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it is a huge part of passing the state licensing compliance test to become a state licensed care home facility. With that said, keep reading. Below are 10 steps to help you start a residential care home.

Step #1 – Make a firm decision that owning and operating a care home facility is what you definitely want to do. Again, it is a 24/7 operation, and takes money, time, and energy to get started and thereafter. It should not be something you enter into lightly.

Step #2 – Come up with a budget. How much money do you have to invest in starting your care home facility? Do you have enough to get licensed, lease or purchase a home, buy furniture and a cash reserve to get you over the hump period while building your business?

Step #3 – Decide what city, county, and state you want to get licensed in. Every city, county, and state have separate and different rules, regulations, requirements, and licensing application steps. It is a good idea to research the best place to open a facility based on who has the least complex steps, rules, and regulations.

Step #4 – Start looking for your residential facility, if you want it outside of your home. Look for a home that is one-level, tied into the main public water and sewer system, has a leveled backyard, and zero or very little steps to get into the home.

Step #5 – Once you find your home, do not lease or purchase the property until you call your local city or county zoning department. You need to ask them if the address can be zoned and permitted to operate a residential care home. If the answer is yes, ask how many residents can you have without installing fire sprinklers? Next ask, what is the process to get the address approved by the city or county?

Step #6 – Once you are comfortable with the answers from the city or county and you are determined to move forward in the process, go to your state licensing website and download their rules, regulations, requirements, and licensing application. If the information is not on their website, ask them to mail or email the information to you.

Step #7 – Review the state licensing application to determine if you are comfortable navigating through the process to get licensed without outside assistance. If you feel comfortable, start with the city or county approval process first, and then work on the state licensing process. However, remember the process, steps and order may be different for each city, county and state.

Step #8 – Make sure your residential home is set up based on the states rules, regulations, and requirements in order to pass inspection. Also, be sure your policy and procedures manual and operations forms are completed and ready for inspection. In order to get licensed, your state licensing application, attachments, facility, and all paperwork must be approved and pass inspection.

Step #9 – Getting licensed is not enough. After you are licensed, you need other essential information. You need to know how to get residents, operate your facility on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to stay in state compliance. Finally, knowing how to be sustainable, resourceful and control financial cost can make the difference between staying in business and closing your doors.

Step #10 – If you are serious about starting a residential care home seek out a creditable expert to help you get licensed in your state. It will give you peace of mind as you go through the state licensing process without needless headaches, anxiety and confusion.

Sharman Lawson is the president and senior consultant at Care Consulting and Training, LLC. As a care home consulting firm, Care Consulting and Training, LLC has helped hundreds of people get licensed throughout the country using their customized products, services, training, and consulting programs. President, Sharman Lawson is the author of the book “12 Steps to Eliminate Debt Forever” and an e-book “The Blueprint to Start and Run a Personal Care Home.” Sharman Lawson has appeared and been featured in Money Magazine for Women, The Oregonian, Atlanta Live, Good Day Northwest, and other local and national media.