how to start an RCFE at home

5 Questions to Ask Before Turning Your Home into an RCFE

Perhaps you’ve just started to think about converting your home into an assisted living facility (RCFE), or maybe you’ve already done much of the research but just can’t come to a final decision. Take your time and consider all the aspects and ramifications involved. The decision you make not only affects you, but also family members, future residents, and employees.

Deciding whether to start any new business is challenging, but starting an assisted living business requires particular deliberations. Running an RCFE takes dedication, tenacity, and a love for the seniors you bring into your home. This article looks at five essential questions to examine before reaching a definite conclusion.

1. Is My Home in a Good Location for an RCFE?

Since we’re focusing on turning your home into an RCFE, this question is pivotal. Although not all potential residents look for the same things when considering the location of a facility, most mention basic requirements:

  • Safe, peaceful surroundings without excessive noise or traffic
  • Interesting walking routes with sidewalks in good repair
  • Proximity to medical facilities and quick-response emergency care
  • Nearby amenities such as parks, libraries, or stores

how to start an assisted living facility

Additionally, if your home cannot meet zoning requirements or state regulations, you cannot use it for assisted living. 

2. Is There Enough Demand in This Area for Another Assisted Living Facility?

If your home, marketing research is the next critical step. You can hire a consultant or you can also find information online and through interviews yourself.

Determine the number of seniors in your area who may need assisted living services now or soon. Take a close look at current competitors and their facility occupancy rates. If facilities exist that are not operating at full capacity, it would be futile to open another RCFE.

elderly care administrator

City, county, and state government agencies as well as senior advocacy groups are good places to start your research. You can also obtain help from trade associations, such as the California Assisted Living Association. Finally, visit any nearby assisted living facilities and talk with staff members to determine if the current needs of area seniors are met.

3. Do I Have Sufficient Financial Resources for Facility Upgrades, Equipment, Licensing Fees, and Initial Operating Expenses?

If you’ve compared quotes from reputable contractors for converting your home, researched the California Department of Social Services website for licensing information, and drawn up a business plan, you should have an idea of whether you are financially ready to operate an RCFE out of your home. If you are coming up short, you can put your plans on hold until you save more money or find an investor to help get your facility running.

rcfe license application

Before your RCFE license application is approved, California regulations require evidence that you have three months of operating expenses in a savings account. This doesn’t just mean you can pay the utility bills on time so power isn’t shut off. You must have the full amount of money to cover all payroll and other expenses needed to operate your new RCFE for at least 90 days.

4. Do I Have the Perseverance and Passion For Completing the Lengthy Planning, Certification, Hiring, and Marketing Processes?

Starting a new assisted living facility is a long, complicated process that requires time, money, and research. A good barometer for determining your suitability is to obtain an RCFE administrator certification. Not only is an assisted living manager certification informational, but it is also required by California law. You or your staff member must be a certified administrator before your home can become an RCFE.

rcfe administrator

Even after opening, you may have to deal with difficult experiences such as the illness of a resident or an important employee deciding to leave. Can you manage change and stress? 

Many people open an RCFE because they find deep satisfaction in caring for a special friend or relative, but business competencies are also required to succeed. You can learn these skills, but they take work. You need a firm commitment to your mission, the ability to stay focused on your goals, and the perseverance to keep going.

5. Can I Find, Inspire and Train the Right Employees To Make This Vision a Reality?

Finding the right people to staff an assisted living facility has always been a challenge, but the current shortage of workers in all sectors has made it even more difficult. Before finalizing your decision, talk to as many prospective employees as possible to gauge interest.

RCFE leadership

Ask what is important to them in a career. Many people want to feel they are making a difference, and they prioritize work-life balance. Support potential staff members with experience by helping them enroll in RCFE continuing education classes. Your ability to arouse interest in improving the quality of life for seniors indicates how successfully you can motivate future employees. 

Several tactics can be used to retain and attract employees to your RCFE

Assisted Living Education Can Help With Decisions, Certifications, and Licenses

You are not alone in your journey to convert your home to an RCFE. We can assist you with the multiple steps involved in completing an RCFE license application and making sure you and your staff members are certified before you open. Contact us today.

Assisted Living Education is a certified vendor providing RCFE classes for employees and guidance in keeping your RCFE compliant and running smoothly.

seniors running

9 Secrets for Getting Seniors to Be More Active

As an owner, administrator, or employee of a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE), you want your residents to be physically healthy, mentally stimulated, and emotionally satisfied. That’s a tall order, and it’s always challenging for any size RCFE to meet residents’ individual needs in order to create a happy, viable community. 

Movement is crucial to a robust lifestyle, especially later in life. According to a CDC report “25% of Americans 65+ fall down and that falling is the leading cause of senior injury and death.”  Taking preventative measures like practicing balancing exercises and strength training help safeguard seniors from injury. 

Physical activity has the added benefit of improving mental health. Active seniors usually feel happier, sleep better, and are more mentally alert than those who are inactive.

senior walking activity

Provide a Positive Atmosphere for Activities

You will find it easier to get residents motivated and involved in physical activities and other pursuits if your staff is upbeat, welcoming, and exhibits a can-do attitude. Attracting the right RCFE employees in the first place makes this task much easier to execute.

Focus Staff Training on Encouraging Seniors

From assisted living classes for certification to your employee training, making certain techniques and strategies to increase the active participation of residents is a top priority. Staff members should be familiar with the needs of seniors and how seniors can be gently encouraged to participate in activities.

Emphasize the Need To Understand Residents

Although it takes time and effort, each RCFE administrator or staff member should learn about individual residents and find out what is important to them. While it’s impossible to remember everything, taking a moment or two each day provides new insights.

encourage active seniors

Create a Fun Facts Banner and Name Pin for Each Resident

A wall banner with the senior’s name and favorite activity, such as reading, yoga, or playing guitar, not only serves as a reminder to staff but also introduces the person to other residents. Likewise, a name pin with a phrase that indicates that an individual likes to read or take walks makes a great ice breaker in recreational areas.

Try These 9 Ways to Stimulate Participation

Even a small RCFE can offer a smorgasbord of physical and enjoyable activities to get residents moving and involved in new pursuits. As you look over this list, it’s important to remember that each senior is unique, and no activity will appeal to everyone.

1. Encourage Digital Photography

Residents can use a tablet, phone, or digital camera. You can conduct a class or furnish several basic photography books as resources. The seniors can print out their best efforts and hang them on the wall. Alternatively, teach them to store photos in the cloud where they can share them with family members and friends. 

Residents can enjoy the technical challenges such as composition or lighting, or they can record their particular interests by photographing flowers, birds, butterflies, or sunsets.

photography for seniors

2. Provide Gardening Opportunities

If your assisted living facility has room outside for flower beds or small vegetable plots, residents who maintained gardens in the past can enjoy bringing beauty and tasty produce to others. If outdoor endeavors aren’t possible, they can still maintain a few container plants in sunny communal areas or their rooms.

gardening activity seniors

Implement gardening classes (even for container gardening) where residents can learn how to make their plants thrive. The act of physically working with soil and the intellectual exercise of understanding how to keep plants alive is both physically and mentally stimulating.

3. Include Cooking Events

Both new and experienced cooks can enjoy interesting cuisines with different ingredients. From yeast dough to colorful salads, there is a dish to interest every palate. Choose a country or a theme for a special meal, and let each participant or a team of two make a dish.

4. Conduct Daily Steps Contests

For those who enjoy a little competition, monitoring steps get seniors moving.. Purchase some inexpensive pedometers and assign them to the participating residents. Post a chart with the competitors’ names, and see who achieves the most steps over a set period.

help seniors exercise

5. Sponsor a Little Free Library

With more than 150,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, your residents can benefit in many ways from this project. They can help decorate the library box, solicit books from residents, staff, and family members, and keep an eye on the library to ensure a steady supply of books. Finally, they can read books exchanged in the library and hold book discussions.

6. Offer Nintendo Wii Experiences and More

These classic video games get older adults into action. Wii offers golf, tennis, and bowling for more physical activity. For newer gaming options consider introducing Minecraft to your residents. Post a chart with individual scores for those preferring to play alone or organize team competitions. Student volunteers could give the seniors tips.

7. Plan a Scavenger or Treasure Hunt

This activity gets even those with limited mobility up and moving. Provide participants with lists of items to obtain from staff members and other residents or hide items around the property for them to find.

8. Hold Holiday Parties for Neighborhood Kids

Sponsoring Christmas or Valentine’s Day parties can bring a lively event to your residents.

party ideas for seniors at RCFE

9. Develop Walking Maps to Explore the Neighborhood

Without a doubt, frequent walks offer many benefits for the seniors in your facility, and you want to encourage walking in every way possible. Creating simple neighborhood maps with routes of varying lengths provides a good way to get reluctant walkers started. Feature nearby parks, interesting buildings, and homes with beautiful landscaping and ask residents to add other ideas.

We Provide Support for Your RCFE

Whether you need RCFE staff training for new employees, RCFE continuing education for current workers, or help with how to start an assisted living facility, we offer state-approved learning opportunities and assistance. Peruse our convenient website or contact Assisted Living Education to receive immediate help with all your needs.

how to market to RCFE clients

7 Ideas for Getting More Clients Into Your RCFE

Despite the abundance of an aging population that requires help with daily living activities, finding residents for your assisted living home can still be challenging. A successful residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) depends on the ability to provide desirable services in the right location paired with creative assisted living marketing techniques.

Whether you are just getting a new facility off the ground and working on your assisted living license or caring for seniors in an established facility, taking time to promote the features you offer can help keep your home filled with happy occupants. This article offers sound strategies for locating and attracting clients for a new or established RCFE.

Develop a Plan To Guide Assisted Living Marketing Efforts

Putting together a marketing plan to make your facility attractive to seniors and their loved ones is a big undertaking. However, breaking down the project into manageable steps promotes focus and prevents overwhelm.

RCFE marketing

Once you begin, make sure your RCFE is ready to open and meets state requirements, including a qualified administrator with a current RCFE Administrator Certification. When everything is underway, put these seven strategies to work.

1. Investigate the Competition

Before you complete the steps to opening an RCFE in California and submit your assisted living license application, carefully research competing assisted living facilities in your area. In doing so, you’ll gain a better perspective on the services and amenities that are most important to potential residents. 

Try to visit a variety of care facilities from small family-run operations to large corporate chains. Pay special attention to those similar in size and style to your RCFE. Investigate price structures, competing amenities, and marketing strategies your rivals are implementing.

how to get more RCFE clients

In addition to a physical visit to an RCFE, be sure to check out the competition online. Read their reviews and take note of the services they highlight. Think about what you could do better or differently. 

By taking the time to understand the competitive landscape, you’ll be in a better position to outperform competitors.

2. Recognize the Needs of Potential Residents

Creating a profile of your ideal customer is helpful in understanding who you will be marketing to. Although this requires an investment of time, it is worth every minute. Not only do you learn what prospective residents want, but you also acquire information that’s vital to serving your assisted living clientele.

When it comes to marketing for an RCFE, recognize the life stage your prospective client is in. Remember that assisted living is sometimes the first step in the progression from total independence to nursing home care.

assisted living marketing

Many seniors considering your facility are giving up a long-term home, downsizing their possessions, and transitioning to a residential community. Since they are looking for a homelike environment, as much independence as possible, and a place they can fit in, these become important points to emphasize in your marketing.

3. Create a Website

Your assisted living marketing methods must utilize current technology and internet exposure in today’s world. Many seniors are comfortable now with computers, technology, and social media. Some probably used these tools during the latter part of their careers.

When older individuals decide to transition to an RCFE, their adult children often become involved in the search for an appropriate facility. They often get their information from online searches consisting of facility websites and third-party review sites. 

For those actively researching assisted living possibilities, your RCFE website becomes their initial contact with your facility – it will likely be their first impression before they visit your facility. 

 Since a positive online experience is so vital, make sure your website includes superior functions:

  • Exhibits professional design, effective headings, and high-quality content
  • Supplies understandable information and straightforward navigation
  • Furnishes contact details such as an address, phone number, email, and maps
  • Incorporates photos and videos
  • Contains comments and testimonials from residents and family members
  • Provides a good experience on a  mobile device
  • Includes regular updates
  • Has an activity calendar and a resident-driven menu

4. Participate in Internet Listings and Review Sites

Another valuable strategy utilizes internet directory sites such as Google Business Profile and independent third-party sites that list and review assisted living facilities. They can help prospects find your website, and provide online testimonials from others about your work.

How to get RCFE reviews

Actively respond to reviews to demonstrate your commitment to customer service and promote confidence in your RCFE. One study shows that 32% of potential customers read at least 4-6 online reviews before making a decision to engage with a business.

Review management is a powerful tool when attracting new residents.

5. Choose a Social Media Site or Two

A professional social media presence that features recent activities at your facility and promotes upcoming special events keeps your RCFE familiar to people even before they may need your services. Share the values of your home through posts, photos, and videos. Social media gives you the ability to reach a wider audience than you would normally be able to reach. 

Focus on one or two sites so you can participate with regular, quality information.

6. Feature Relevant Blogs

Spotlight regular blogs on your website to familiarize prospects with your assisted living home. These articles should provide helpful information on issues older individuals may face, such as downsizing, moving, adjusting to different living environments, or making new friends. You can write the blogs yourself or hire a contract writer or service to furnish them.

assisted living marketing

Blogs not only give valuable information but also help to drive visitors to your website and help to establish you as an expert in senior care.

7. Sponsor Community Events

You can adjust the type and size of the occasion to the location, space, and interests of your residents and community members. A small RCFE might offer a Halloween party for neighborhood children, a book club for residents and community members, or a summer lawn party that includes the neighborhood. Start small, and if refreshments are planned, ask for advance reservations.

Highlight Current Training in Your Assisted Living Marketing Efforts

Whether your administrator has completed continuing education classes required to maintain a current certificate or a new employee is working on training classes, feature the information on your website and social media accounts. 

You can always contact Assisted Living Education to answer your questions and provide high-quality training classes for all your RCFE certification needs. We want to empower you to provide quality care to all your residents.

People Also Ask: 

How do I find employees for my RCFE? Finding and retaining dedicated caregivers for your RCFE can be challenging without a solid hiring process. Here are seven ways to attract employees to your RCFE.

how to hire for an rcfe

7 Ways To Attract Employees to Your RCFE

Finding and retaining dedicated caregivers has always presented challenges for administrators of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly or RCFEs. Unfortunately, events of the past several years have contributed to a situation where the number of employment openings nationwide is greater than available job seekers to fill them.

In addition, unprecedented numbers of workers continue to quit their jobs to look for better opportunities and more job satisfaction elsewhere. If you are concerned about how these trends could affect your ability to hire caring, dedicated employees for an RCFE you own, manage or plan to open in California, this article offers some strategies you can implement to attract qualified caregivers for your assisted living residents. 

Revamp Your Hiring Approach

You may feel discouraged when you read employment statistics. Be aware that many potential employees want more from a position than just a paycheck. A position at a successful assisted living facility can offer more, such as making a difference in a senior’s life.

Don’t be afraid to emphasize this as you recruit new employees with these seven strategies.

1. Devote Sufficient Time To Find the Right Staff 

Hiring employees for an assisted living facility is a time-consuming process and requires a systematic approach. At a high level, the following steps cover the essentials of the hiring process:

  • Develop an accurate job description that communicates the desired skills needed to fill the position. Involving current employees in the crafting of job descriptions gives a more accurate account of what to include. Bonus tip for standing out to prospective employees: write an engaging overview about your facility that highlights the objectives of the RCFE and highlights why the position you’re filling is important. 


  • Post the job description on various online job boards. If you have a LinkedIn profile, post the opportunity there. Also, don’t forget to tap your existing social network for introductions to potential employees. 


  • Review applications as they come in and set aside those that are a match. Consider giving preference to those who have already taken assisted living courses


  • Interview candidates. A best practice is to prepare interview questions in advance. Asking applicants the same set of questions will allow you to compare their answers and help you to address points that are most important to your organization. 

Developing an organized hiring process can help locate the right workers for your RCFE, but be realistic about the time and effort needed to fill positions.

how to attract employees to an rcfe

Prepare for inevitable disappointments when prospects decline a job offer, change their minds or quit after working a day or two. Learn from any negative experiences and try to avoid similar situations in the future.

Taking the time to carefully hire employees will reward you with less turnover and more qualified employees.

2. Research What Is Most Important to Employees

While dissatisfaction with earnings often tops reasons workers give for quitting, other causes include little hope of moving up to a better position and a lack of respect for employees and their work efforts.

Getting input from your current RCFE employees can help on several levels. Whether you conduct informal conversations or ask workers to fill out a survey, you learn what they value in the workplace and demonstrate you take your employees’ opinions seriously. 

3. Consider Characteristics You Value in Your Caretakers

Before incorporating what you learn about employee values in your recruitment strategy, consider traits you desire in an ideal employee. Next, think about where you might find people who exhibit these qualities.

assisted living courses

If you listed patience as a valuable attribute, you might contemplate recruiting experienced parents, teacher aides, or people working in customer service at big box stores. Parents whose children are now in school or burned-out workers may be prepared to make a change.

4. Be Ready To Invest in Employee Certification and Training

When looking for a competent administrator to run your facility, you may select a candidate that needs to take the RCFE administrator course. When seeking to hire a caregiver, experience is helpful, but not required. All caregivers must have the California RCFE employee training regardless of past employment in another RCFE.

5. Create a Positive Atmosphere in Your RCFE

The lack of respect many employees feel in their workplaces presents a huge opportunity to set your assisted living facility apart from the competition. Creating a culture of respect, appreciation, and warmth for every person in your RCFE family goes a long way in keeping residents and staff happy.

attract employees for assisted living

Options for showing employee appreciation are endless. Some suggestions include:

  • Create a space for staff. Transform a lackluster break room into a full-fledged staff lounge. Include comfortable seating, snacks, charging ports for electronics, and other perks that give people an opportunity to decompress and re-energize. 


  • Give awards for a job well done. Be sure to involve residents in the selection and celebration of the awards.


  • Go public with your appreciation. Highlight exemplary employees on your social media accounts. 


  • Celebrate with your staff. Birthdays and other special occasions (or even non-special occasions like “yay Tuesday”) can be celebrated as a team. 

Showing respect and appreciation begins with the RCFE administrator setting the example and expecting employees to respect and appreciate each other as well.

6. Keep the Application Process Simple

Finally, once you have made your facility as satisfying a place to work as possible, streamline the initial application and interview process.

Being available to do an interview when a potential candidate comes by to complete an application, may save you both time later on.

rcfe administrator course

Since many job seekers fill out several applications at the same time, it is important to meet them as soon as possible, talk over their needs and goals to see if they are a good fit, and pursue the next steps if you want them on your team.

7. Make Every Interview a Win-Win

While interviewing applicants before fully vetting their credentials may seem tedious, it is worth the effort. If the candidate is a good match for your facility, you can move forward before another employer snatches the worker up.

You can listen and learn about workers’ values from the applicants. You can also share information about assisted living opportunities and your facility in particular.

Work With an Experienced Training Program

Whether you are hiring an administrator or caregivers, you need a quality vendor to provide administrator certification courses and staff training. 

Assisted Living Education can assist your facility in meeting your regulatory compliance issues such as staff training, Regulation update subscription service, and consultation services

Please contact Assisted Living Education for more information.

People Also Ask

What should I look for in an RCFE administrator program? Whether you’re looking for yourself or your team members, choosing an approved provider of RCFE classes is only the first step in evaluating a program. Here’s what to look for in an RCFE administrator program

10 Steps to Open an RCFE in California

2022 Update

By the year 2035, it’s projected that there will be more than 78 million people ages 65 and older living in the United States, up almost 60% from the 46 million in 2016, according to population data. Every state is expected to see massive growth as baby boomers age into retirement, but none will see an increase quite like California. By 2036 the state will see more than 10,000,000 people 65 and older which comprises about 23% of our population.

Planning for an aging population is no longer conjecture. It is an absolute necessity. Doing so requires that we have the infrastructure in place to care for those who will need it, which means more licensed care facilities, more available beds, and more trained and certified RCFE administrators.

Getting there will not be easy, and setting out to open your own RCFE is not for the faint of heart. It’s a significant business decision, but one that carries with it one of the most rewarding acts of service one can provide:  caring for those who came before us. Here’s how you go about opening and RCFE in the state of California.

1. Find a qualified, certified administrator.  

The first and most important step is to find a certified administrator. Without having a qualified, certified administrator on your team, none of the rest can follow. In all likelihood, you’re probably intent on becoming certified yourself, but how do you go about doing that?

To become certified you must first take the DSS-required 80-hour Initial Administrator Certification Course, and then take and pass the DSS-administered 100-question test with a minimum passing score of 70%. This test must be taken within 60 days of you completing the 80-hour course, after which you must submit the required paperwork and fee within 30 days of passing the test.

open an assisted living facility

Not everyone is qualified to be an administrator of your facility. The general requirements call for a high school diploma or equivalent and being at least 21 years of age. For a 16-49 bed facility, you must have at least 15 college units and have at least 1 year of experience working in an RCFE or equivalent. To be an administrator of a 50+ bed facility, you’ll need to have a minimum of 2 years of college, and have at least 3 years of experience working in an RCFE or equivalent.

Are you qualified, and ready to take the DSS-required RCFE initial certification course for administrators?

2.  Secure the physical plant.

It will sound obvious in hindsight, but you can’t be the administrator of a residential facility for the elderly if you don’t have the actual facility part locked down. In order to submit a license application for your facility, you must show “control of property” — that is, proof that you either own the property, that you are either in the process of buying the property or that you will be leasing/renting the property.

3. Contact your local fire marshal for a pre-inspection.

The sooner you do this, the better! It’s possible that the fire marshal will charge you a nominal fee, but this inspection will let you know early on if you will need to make costly modifications to your home/facility in order to be compliant with local fire codes and state regulations. Money well spent! If you don’t make these modifications, you won’t be able to get the maximum number of non-ambulatory rooms or apartments out of your facility. You’ve already come this far! Maximize your investment by making these modifications, or find another location!

4. Take the online orientation course with DSS.

You must take the DSS Application/Component 1 Orientation course.  You only need to take this course once. There is a registration fee and access to the courses is limited to 30 days once the fee is purchased. This is all done through the DSS website.

steps to open an assisted living facility

When finished, you will submit a copy of your orientation certificate. The orientation is the beginning of the process. Stay informed about future regulation changes and updates through a certified regulation service.

5. Submit a license application to DSS.

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. The next step in this process is to prepare and submit an RCFE license application to DSS, including parts A and B, along with the applicable fee. We won’t sugarcoat it:  this is not like filling out an application for a driver’s license. The Applications Instructions alone are 22 pages in length, and all told you’re looking at hundreds of pages to gather information for, prepare, and fill out. Attempting this on your own is a recipe for disaster — just one error could delay your facility’s opening by months!

Instead, it’s smart to consider having your RCFE license application completed by a professional. Our team has licensed hundreds of small and large RCFEs, and worked with DSS licensing personnel for more than 15 years. We have never had an application rejected due to our error!

Do you have the required 3 months’ of operating costs in the bank? You must open a bank account in your facility name and deposit at least 3 months’ operating costs into it. The DSS will verify this in the process of reviewing your application.

Be patient. This process may take 4-5 months.

6. Market your facility.

Congratulations, you’ve submitted your application! Now it is time to start meeting with the potential residents who fill your facility once you are licensed. You are NOT allowed to move residents into your facility until you secure the license from DSS, but DO start looking for residents.

Don’t wait until you secure the license, because that will just be time lost! In our post detailing 6 Steps for a Successful RCFE we talked about the importance of choosing your residents wisely. Remember, your first resident is your benchmark and will set the tone for your facility in ways you might not expect.

how to market your RCFE

Potential residents and their families will likely be searching online for information about facilities well before they call or visit. It’s necessary to cultivate potential client relationships with a robust online presence. Take steps to help your website be found via online reviews, directories, and other digital marketing strategies to improve your RCFE’s online marketing

7. DSS will schedule a Component II (face to face) meeting at their office.

This is step two in a three-part component process that must be completed by all new licensees. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be contacted by the local DSS office for a one-on-one interview with the reviewing analyst.

Component I was the orientation course you took in #4 on this list, and Component III involves  “category specific training and discussion in areas not often understood by new licensees intended to promote successful facility operation.” Basically, this is the facility tour where the Licensing Program Analyst (LPA) determines if the facility is safe, stocked, and ready to receive residents. Both components II and III will be done once DSS accepts your license application, but prior to actual licensure. These are all essential aspects of the license application process.

8. DSS will schedule a pre-licensing visit to inspect your facility.

You’re so close! You’re almost there! A pre-licensing inspection by the DSS LPA is the last step in the RCFE license application review process. DSS will send you a checklist for you to complete prior to this visit. Make sure you complete this checklist fully and have it available for their review when they come to visit.  Note:  DSS will NOT conduct a pre-licensing until your fire marshal grants their approval.

9. Hire staff and train them accordingly.

Putting together your team and training them accordingly is arguably the most important step in this entire process. We’ve discussed before the perils of fire-drilling the hiring process in our post about The 10 Biggest Mistakes RCFEs Make. You aren’t just looking for warm bodies to fill these important caretaking positions. You want a passionate team of people who want to come in every single day intent on making the lives of your residents better.

open an assisted living home

Remember, you don’t want to wait until you are licensed to build your team, because you will not be able to move in and care for residents without a staff! Once you’ve found the right people, make sure that they are properly trained and meet all the state requirements. And also, don’t forget the importance of ongoing CEU training for RCFE administrators and staff as well!

Managing your staff in the day-to-day so they thrive will produce a well-run operation that both staff and residents will appreciate. Commit to a management style that encourages communication and accountability to help reduce employee turnover

10. DSS issues you a facility license.

You did it! Yes, you! Let that feeling of pride wash over you. You are now the proud administrator of a fully licensed RCFE. This is everything you’ve worked so hard toward, and it’s time to open your doors. Now you can move in your residents that are on your waiting list!

The process to opening an RCFE facility in California may be long, but it’s rewarding. It’s okay if it takes you a year or more to get your facility off the ground — it’s not a race, and in the end it will all be worth it. The senior care industry is among the fastest-growing industries in the country, and California is no different. We must be prepared to meet the needs of seniors with the best care possible. More growth means more new facilities will be needed.


Update for 2022 RCFE Regulations & Operations During COVID-19

Given the population’s nature of an RCFE facility, the threat of contracting and spreading the coronavirus proves a tremendous challenge. Beyond the “new normal” operating procedures of enforced social distancing, mask and glove wearing, and ongoing temperature checks to better protect the residents, the staff must also take even greater precautions for their own protection. 

At the end of May, 2020, the Center for Disease Control released enhanced guidelines for every RCFE administrator and staff member to follow in the face of the pandemic. These include:

  • New regulations about visitor restrictions and updated outlines on group activities, especially as some facilities start to relax their previously mandated restrictions.
  • In addition, new information was released regarding the best practices for tracking infections and preventing infection of others in a systematic way.

This current contagion of COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges both for aspiring RCFE administrators and long-standing ones. But never has the need for dedicated RCFE workers been more urgent. Getting your RCFE license now will go a long way to helping our senior population today and tomorrow.

The need is there. Are you ready to provide it?

People Also Ask: 

What should you look for in an RCFE administrator program?  There are several factors to consider when choosing a program. Most importantly, make sure the program is administered by a vendor certified by the Department of Social Services.

Assisted Living Education is the leading provider of RCFE certification classes, licensing, products and services for assisted living. Our teachers are industry professionals with many years of experience that are engaging, entertaining and highly informative.

how to take online rcfe classes

6 Tips for Taking RCFE Classes Online

Taking all or part of your Residential Care for the Elderly (RCFE) certification and continuing education classes in an online format provides many advantages over in-person classes. You can save commuting time and costs while a flexible class schedule works around employment and family obligations.

Many students, however, may harbor some misconceptions about online RCFE CEUs and other virtual RCFE classes. Instructors teach these courses with the same vigor and rigorous requirements as in-person training. Not only are the teachers just as qualified and experienced, but the students are also expected to complete the same assignments and competency requirements as a traditional class. 

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many in-person activities have pivoted to online – the assisted living industry is no exception.  For the RCFE initial certification class, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) has temporarily allowed the 60-hour live class portion to be Live Streamed (Webinar) on Zoom due to COVID restrictions. This temporary allowance will expire on June 30, 2022. 

online rcfe course

No matter how many useful methods you employ for online class success, the most important factor involves making the best use of the study time you have and focusing completely on your materials. This article provides a number of strategies to help you learn, think and master the online portion of your RCFE administrator course or any online class.

6 Ways To Improve Your Online RCFE Administrator Course Outcomes

All online students are unique with individual strengths, advantages and challenges. Use the tips that best apply to your situation. 

1. Understand Your Course and Approach It With the Right Mindset

Once you enroll in an online class, carefully read the course syllabus and make note of the goals, reading assignments, and video homework. Treat the requirements with the same dedication you would give an in-person class or a work project and expect a positive experience.

2. Organize Your Space and Your Pace

If you already have a quiet corner or desk space, make sure to utilize it for your study time. Keep your computer or tablet and course resources at hand. Turn off your phone and social media notifications and avoid as many distractions as possible.

Not everyone has a dedicated study space, so you may need to think outside the box to set up a workspace. You might also consider studying at a public library or quiet corner of a coffee shop as long as it offers internet connectivity.

studying for RCFE exam

Although online classes allow you to study anytime, following a schedule makes a huge difference. Even if family responsibilities make regular study times difficult, a tentative framework helps keep you on track.

3. Connect Your Study Tasks to Your Future Work

During your review of course materials, try to connect the information to your upcoming work in an assisted living facility. As your instructor relates experiences, think about your own elderly relatives or acquaintances and how strategies might apply to them. Associating what you learn with real-life situations helps you to reinforce the information that’s being presented to you. As you advance in your classes, be cognizant of the qualities that make a good assisted living administrator.

4. Utilize All Textbooks, Videos, and Supplementary Materials

All Assisted Living Education  RCFE classes are designed to meet the requirements of the California Department of Social Services. The course videos, textbooks, and additional materials are carefully developed for a quality experience. Additionally, course materials from state-approved vendors, like Assisted Living Education, assure you that the course includes everything you need to know to pass RCFE initial certification classes or RCFE CEUs. Completing all assignments associated with these resources is vital to success. 

Online courses typically include a virtual textbook and other materials. If you prefer using printed information, however, you may want to invest in a hard copy of the textbook or print some of the other handouts so you can make notes in the margins and highlight information.

5. Participate in Discussions

If you are new to online learning, the discussion area set up by the instructor may seem a little intimidating at first, but it is another essential element of your class success. During instruction through Zoom, the chat function is available to students for questions and comments. Therefore, prepping questions in advance of class will give you an opportunity to contemplate the coursework more thoroughly. Questions and comments from fellow classmates may also aid in giving you a different perspective on the material. 

The online format allows students and instructors to maximize their time. Each participant has the opportunity to post in chat, and it avoids one or two individuals dominating the conversation.

6. Review Periodically

Before you begin each study session, take a few minutes to review any notes and materials from what was covered previously. This reinforces the concepts and may help you relate them to the new material presented. Consider preparing questions for your instructor in advance. 

If you are taking the RCFE administrator course, there are practice test questions for RCFE classes that will help prepare you for the RCFE administrator exam. The questions are similar to those in the exam and will help you pinpoint areas for further review. ALE provides a test prep as part of the online learning classes free to our students of the Initial Administrator Course. 

Succeed With Online Classes

Virtual courses can make it possible to fit the RCFE administrator course, required RCFE CEUs, or other RCFE classes into a hectic work and family schedule. By taking practical measures to focus on the instruction and avoid distractions, you can complete your courses and reach your assisted living career goals.

If you need help finding appropriate online RCFE certification and CEU classes, contact us at Assisted Living Education. We are here to support you on every step of your career path.

About Assisted Living Education (ALE):

ALE is an approved Initial Certification Training Program vendor in the state of California. Our instructors have extensive experience in RCFE Certification Training and RCFE Continuing Education. Are you thinking of operating your own assisted living facility? ALE provides RCFE Licensing assistance and RCFE Consulting Services. We have a proven track record of preparing RCFE owners and their employees for a career in assisted living. 

People Also Ask:

How do I get an RCFE license? A certified RCFE administrator must be at least 21 years old and have completed high school or acquired a GED. Additionally, you must complete the 80-hour RCFE Certification class and pass the California State exam. A background check is required. The application for the RCFE certificate is $100. 

Creating a Better Living Environment for Residents

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into the design of marketing products and store layouts. Drawing the consumer’s attention to different products at various shelving levels, or placing cheap, tempting items close to the register creates “impulse buys.” Every product in the store has been designed and marketed to persuade your buying behavior.

A similar approach can be used in assisted living or other facilities which provide services to seniors, especially in memory care. Instead of inspiring residents to make purchases, carefully planned decor can make residents feel more comfortable and safe in their surroundings.

In the past, many facilities had used bland colors, similar to what you would find in a hospital. These neutral colors were thought to be non-offensive and less distracting, which they were, but sometimes tended toward bland. However, recent changes have been implemented in some memory care facilities that move away from mundane decor and create environments that residents enjoy living in.

This doesn’t mean that anything goes; different designers have taken care in their choices of decor, including choosing colors and patterns that are not overly stimulating.

Mindful Designs

Designs for assisted living facilities should keep their main functional goals in mind, but there’s still plenty of room to add custom touches as well.

The design of common rooms should be open to flexibility, to accommodate different activities, gatherings, and special events like holiday parties or guest musicians.  These areas can also help build a bridge between the facility and the community, as an inviting space to bring in volunteers to engage with residents, put on performances, or other unique occasions.

At the same time, while it is nice to be able to rearrange furniture, it is useful for residents if those rearrangements are kept to a minimum, especially for those with cognitive or memory issues. Maintaining a familiar space can help avoid confusion, and even trips or falls.

Less is always more, especially in an assisted living environment. Rooms and common spaces should be clutter-free to help keep clear pathways and also reduce fall risks.

Color Coordinating

Attributes of the actual decor can also evoke positive (or negative) feelings and associations. Natural colors or colors associated with nature (brown/wood, green/foliage, yellow/earthy) are warmer and friendlier, while blues and grays tend to be cooler yet sophisticated.

Another thing to consider in color choice is that color/vision also tends to change as we age. Seniors see more yellow, and gray is often a common color used in institutional settings. It’s suggested that using greens and yellows can help enhance colors in seniors’ vision.

Bold or dramatic patterns are not typically the best for residents in an assisted living situation, as they may be overly stimulating. Subtle patterns, accent colors, and gentle contrasts are useful, however, and can help denote a transition or border from one room to the next.

Natural Lighting Benefits Everyone

When possible, take advantage of natural daylight to brighten a room. Not only is it ‘friendlier,’ but it can physiologically help residents stick to a regular sleep cycle. Exposure to natural light could potentially increase exposure to Vitamin D, which encourages muscle movement, cell growth regulation, and helps the body absorb calcium – a crucial benefit in the fight against osteoporosis.

better environment for seniors

Using more natural light is also a cost-cutter in terms of electricity, a  financial benefit to the facility as well – a benefit everyone can enjoy!

A Home Environment

Sticking to warm or lively colors can make the facility look friendlier and more like home, which can have a positive effect on residents and their families alike. An inviting color palette can help the environment feel less institutionalized and more personal and therefore comforting.

Age-friendly materials like anti-skid flooring, safe stairs, and accessible baths contribute to the ability of residents to feel at ease within their environment. 

For example, furniture should be comfy, but not too comfy; extra cushy chairs can be difficult for residents to climb out of. Firmer, supportive chairs at an appropriate height would be better suited. Armrests should not be too high so the resident can use them comfortably to rise from a seated position.

Connect with the Great Outdoors

Outdoor areas can work in harmony with the rest of the facility. Properly designed outdoor areas will extend functionality and provide a variety of experiences for residents, guests, and staff. The positive effects of outdoor exposure include stress reduction and healthy exposure to natural light and air.  Create outdoor wellness areas that function as their own rooms. Examples include: 

  • Fitness stations to promote exercise
  • Lawn areas for outdoor activities like yoga, Tai Chi, or Bocce ball. A putting green could be incorporated as well. 
  • Outdoor gathering areas with fire pits, comfortable seating, and pleasant landscaping
  • Wide, flat trails for walking and socialization
  • Community gardens for residents to grow their own food or flowers
  • Outdoor amphitheaters create a space for outdoor entertainment like movie nights or plays 

Create Spaces for Staff

Residents benefit from consistent care, especially from people they are familiar with. Additionally, with the onset of Covid, staff shortages are commonplace. Staff retention is more important than ever! 

Invest in making your staff feel comfortable and appreciated. Staff lounges are a great place to start. For example, an outdoor patio for staff use can help people decompress during breaks. Within the staff lounge area, consider adding charging ports for electronics, a recliner, or a snack center in addition to the usual dining table and chairs.

People Also Ask

How can I make my RCFE eco-friendly? There are several green building initiatives for RCFEs that can simultaneously improve the lives of residents and help the environment. 


Assisted Living Education is a premier provider of classroom-based and online coursework for professionals in assisted living. We offer RCFE Administrator Certification Training, RCFE licensing, continuing education, and consulting in specific areas like compliance, staff training and licensing. Please visit our contact page to reach us for any inquiries.


how to choose an RCFE administrator program

Important Things To Look for in an RCFE Administrator Program

Every journey requires a map to reach your destination with as few detours as possible. As you begin your exciting venture to receive your residential care for the elderly (RCFE) administrator certification, California’s RCFE administrator program can help you map the way to reach your goal.

Whether you’re pursuing certification to open your own licensed RCFE or to run an established assisted living facility, you need to complete the RCFE administrator program because this is a requirement in California.

An RCFE Certificate of Completion for the class qualifies you to take the 100-question RCFE Administrator Certification Examination. The exam is 100 questions, timed at 2 hours, open book and you must pass with a score of 70%. The exam costs $100. 

Once you pass the exam, you must submit an application and a fee of $110. During the Assisted Living Education (ALE) administrator course, the instructors will cover all the requirements for preparing for the exam and assist you with the paperwork required for the application submission.

The class training and information help you answer exam questions to pass the test and complete the application to receive the California RCFE Administrator certificate. The knowledge, advice, and experience gained through the course will guide your daily operations of an assisted living facility.

Choosing the ideal course becomes a vital first step on this journey, but how do you find the right program for your needs? 

Discover the essential factors to consider as you evaluate RCFE classes.

Make Sure the RCFE Administrator Program is State Approved

In California, oversight for all community care facilities, including senior care, is assigned to the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services. The CCLD administers the RCFE licensing to open an assisted living facility.

Approval of course outlines and regulation of vendors for the RCFE administrator program and RCFE classes is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Social Services, Administrator Certification Section

Choosing RCFE Administrator Program

Taking training from a vendor not on the list of approved Initial Certification Training Program Vendors creates a huge roadblock on your journey. The state will not accept your course completion certificate or allow you to take the administrator certification exam, and you will likely end up having to take — and pay for — another course that is approved by the DSS.

Check the Class Logistics

Qualities that set apart a class and enhance learning do not include organizational details. However, class locations or webinar times, tuition, book or material prices, refund, and make-up policies can lead to a detour in your plans.

Check the vendors’ websites for course schedules and carefully note exactly what is included in the price. Make sure you understand the consequences of arriving late or missing a class or webinar and write down cancellation deadlines.

State requirements for the course include 20 hours of online classes and 60 hours of live training. In response to COVID restrictions, the Department of Social Services determined that course providers could teach the 60-hour portion of the class using live-streamed webinars through June 30, 2022. Therefore, unless the DSS provides an extension, in-person classes should resume after this date.

Review Course Outlines and Instructional Materials

All RCFE Initial Certification Training Program vendors must follow the Administrator Certification Section Core of Knowledge Training Standards and submit course outlines for DSS approval. The Title 22 California Code of Regulations is an important reference used in the 80-hour course.

Although California sets the overall training curriculum, individual vendors develop their own course guides and supplemental materials. 

choosing an rcfe administrator program

Ask specific questions about the text and handouts used in the class before registering. If possible, ask administrators who completed the class about the clarity and usefulness of the materials for training, exam preparation, and later reference when working in the field.

Ask About Class Size

Whether the 60-hour portion of the administrator training is taught in person or through webinars, the number of students enrolled makes a difference. If the vendor puts too many students in the class, you may not get a chance to ask questions and participate in discussions. If too few individuals attend, a helpful exchange of ideas may lag.

Evaluate the Instructional Staff

The teacher sets the tone for the class and can make the difference between a vibrant, upbeat experience with everyone participating or a dull, uninspired presentation of regulations and dry facts. Ask about the faculty member’s background and verify past experience as a working RCFE administrator in several different facilities.

A good instructor sprinkles stories of situations and challenges encountered over the years and gets the students involved with solutions. Look at online reviews and testimonials of former students to check out the level of teacher engagement with the students.

Remember the Most Important Factor Is You

Course schedules, practical handouts, and a stellar instructor all contribute to an amazing classroom experience, but in the end, you are the person responsible for getting everything you can out of the RCFE administrator program. To reach your goal and become a certified administrator — and perhaps receive RCFE licensure of your facility — you need to choose the right course and make the most of the opportunity.

We’re Here To Guide You

It may seem like a long journey, but the helpful experts at Assisted Living Education want to help you reach your destination. 

Contact us today if you have questions or need advice about taking that first step.

People Also Ask: 

How much do RCFE administrators make? Salary ranges vary for RCFE administrators. In California, the average salary for an RCFE is around $45,000. Salaries in the higher end for this role usually depend on a number of factors like the size of the facility, an individual’s experience, or education.

About ALE:

Assisted Living Education (ALE)  is an approved Initial Certification Training Program vendor in the state of California. We provide comprehensive RCFE Certification Training, RCFE Continuing Education, RCFE Licensing assistance, and RCFE Consulting Services. With many years of real-world experience, our instructors will prepare you or your employees for a rewarding career in assisted living. 

How Much Does It Cost To Start an Assisted Living Facility in California?

People think about starting a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) in California for many reasons. Some feel aging demographics make caring for the elderly a good career opportunity. Others may have tended to an incapacitated family member or friend and found it very rewarding.

Occasionally, an individual may inherit a sprawling house that seems ideally suited for a care facility or discover a great building for sale at a reasonable price. Sometimes, assisted living employees may conclude they could run a caring and innovative establishment if they went into business for themselves.

Whatever your motivation for starting an RCFE or assisted living facility, you may wonder what it would cost to get your business off the ground. 

This article examines some of the steps involved in opening an assisted living home and breaks down the expenses. Keep in mind these expenses vary based on the size and scope of your proposed facility.

Start-Up Steps and Costs

Something important to note is that California’s assisted living model provides for a large variation in facilities. Some homes offer care for only a few residents, while others offer services to dozens or even hundreds of individuals. 

start-up costs for assisted living facility in California

All RCFEs provide a room, three meals and snacks per day, common areas for socializing, enrichment activities, help with managing medications, and assistance with activities of daily living. Although the communities differ in living environments, extra amenities, and dining options, they all require an understanding of the costs of the various  start-up expenses which include the following:

Training and RCFE Licensing Fees

Even if you plan to hire an administrator for your business, obtaining an RCFE administrator certificate is a good idea; it is required by California law if you plan to run the facility yourself.

During the 80-hour certification training, you become familiar with California RCFE regulations and reporting requirements, as well as the fine points of assisted living operations.

The current price for the course is $559 with ALE and the fee to take the state-required exam is $100. Once you pass the exam, you need to pay an additional $110 state fee for the certification. Keep in mind that your future staff will also need RCFE classes to meet caregiver requirements. 

cost to start an assisted living facility

You will also require an RCFE License for your facility from the California Department of Social Services. This process starts with a three-hour orientation fee of $50 and a license application fee based on the number of resident beds in the facility. 

For example, fees start at $495 for one to three beds, increase to $990 for four to six beds, and $1486 for seven to 15 beds. The application fee for a 75- to 100-bed facility is $3469. 

Since the RCFE license process is quite long and complex, many new owners hire professional assistance to prepare the application. ALE’s fee for these services can start at approximately $2,000.

Building Outlay

Whether you buy an existing facility that has residents and staff in place, convert a property you already own into a compliant facility, or search out an ideal building to purchase and modify, housing your senior care business is your largest potential expense. 

Very few assisted living businesses lease buildings; most own the property they utilize. In California, you must show “control of property” which means you must show proof that you own, are in the process of owning, or renting a property for use as an RCFE. Without proof, you won’t be able to submit your license application. 

 Down payments vary, depending on the type of loan. If you qualify for a 504 SBA loan, you may need to put as little as 10% down. A traditional bank loan may require a down payment as high as 40% in some instances.

Even a facility currently in business may need some updates, and you will need to incorporate the improvements into your mortgage or have the additional money on hand. If you already own a suitable residence, be sure to get several firm bids for needed modifications and upgrades before making a final decision. The remodeling expenses may be more than you expect.

Furnishings and Equipment

If you purchase a successful operation, most of the furniture, kitchen equipment, and perhaps an inventory of supplies may be included. This might also be somewhat true if you are converting your home. Take a thorough inventory of items already in place and indicate which ones need replacement.

If you are furnishing the RCFE from scratch, you may want to figure anywhere from a low of $3,000 up to $5,000 or more for each residential room and higher amounts for recreational, dining, and kitchen areas.

start-up costs for Residential Care Facility

Operating Expenses

Another initial cost is setting aside cash for the first few months of operating expenditures. Experts suggest a minimum of one to two months’ expenses, but in California, the state sets this for you. Before the State of California issues your RCFE license, you must prove that you have three months of operating funds set aside in a bank account.

Once again, monthly operating costs vary with the size of the facility, the number of residents and staff, and the amenities offered. To come up with a general estimate, be sure to include:


  • Wages for caretaking staff, kitchen personnel, housekeeping, and laundry workers
  • Employee RCFE classes, benefits, and Social Security taxes
  • Food for residents and possibly staff (it is a nice benefit)
  • Laundry and cleaning supplies
  • Mortgage Payments
  • Utilities and Property Taxes
  • Advertising and Office Supplies
  • Recreation and Entertainment
  • Transportation

Marketing and Advertising Expenses

You won’t be able to accommodate residents until you’re fully licensed, but it’s never too early to start marketing your RCFE. Create a marketing plan for your facility to attract residents. 

Before spending money on digital marketing or PR, establish a marketing plan that outlines the expected outcomes of your marketing activities. Include KPIs (key performance indicators) that can be used to determine if your marketing tracks with your goals. All marketing is an ongoing strategy, so expect this to be a monthly expense. 

Many owners outsource their marketing needs to an agency or consultant. As a rough estimate, small to mid-sized businesses usually spend about 10-20% of revenue on marketing.  

Start Small and Expand Slowly

California has a great assisted living model that allows both the owner and RCFE administrator to begin with a small property and learn along the way. 

If you have some capital, to begin with, then realize that over a short period of time with great management and marketing, your return on investment will make the initial sacrifice worth the effort.

Operating or owning an assisted living facility is one of the best careers you can embrace, but it can become overwhelming if you take on too much before you are ready. It’s generally best to only take on what you can confidently handle at one time and grow your business organically over time. 

If you have questions or need advice about opening an RCFE, contact us at Assisted Living Education. We are here to help you provide quality care and educational assistance.


People Also Ask: 

Who licenses assisted living facilities in California? 

Licensing, monitoring and regulation are provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with the California Department of Social Services. Every 5 years, the California Department of Public Health performs inspections. 

6 Steps for a Successful RCFE

Starting your first Resident Care Facility for the Elderly or RCFE can be exciting, fulfilling and daunting all at the same time. Between securing a location and getting your RCFE administrator certifications it can be easy to overlook some of the important basic ideas that will help ensure your first RCFE is a success.

What is an RCFE? 

The RCFE model exists only in California. You may hear them referred to as care homes, residential care, rest homes, or assisted living facilities. The care provided at these facilities is for people over 60 who require assistance but not 24-hour care. 

An RCFE provides lodging as well as assistance with activities of daily living such as personal care, hygiene, dressing, eating, medications, etc. RCFEs are considered non-medical and therefore are not required to have medical staff on site. Think of an RCFE as something between independent living and 24-hour nursing care.

Get Information from Trusted Sources

Over the years, we have worked with hundreds of newly minted RCFE administrators to make sure their facilities, policies and business strategies are setting them, and their residents up for the best possible experience. In that time, we’ve learned a thing or two (or six) on some of the foundational elements of what makes a successful RCFE. Here is what we would say our 6 most important tips for building a successful RCFE facility are…

1. Spend Time Creating Your Team

More than just a team, you are creating a professional business culture, and where that culture starts is with you and your employees. Those first several hires are vital to any new venture, regardless of the industry, and especially in a care-oriented industry like this one. The people you choose and the personalities they bring set the tone and precedent for all that is to come. Get a firm understanding of what makes a good assisted living administrator and carry those qualities over to your team.

With everything in flux, you might be tempted to “fire drill” the hiring process in a rush to hit the ground running. This is never a good idea. We’ve all heard the phrase beggars can’t be choosers. In hiring, no matter the circumstances, that should never apply. Give yourself permission to spend time creating your team. Yes, your team. You have a vision, and it is okay to be selective on who will join you on your path to seeing it through.

2. Choose Your Residents Wisely

Just as you are creating a culture with your first employees, so are you building an RCFE community. Your first resident is your benchmark and will set the tone for your community in ways you might not expect. For example, if your first resident has Alzheimer’s and has repetition tendencies, then it might be difficult to admit residents who are cognitively with it.

Remember, just as you have a choice, so do your residents — and there are a lot of factors that go into their decision if they choose your RCFE facility. As facilities grow in size, culture and community are becoming increasingly important. If a resident-to-be doesn’t see a community they can engage with (even if one exists), they might very well pass on your community. Whether it’s bound in fact or not, perception is reality.

3. Know All of Your State’s Regulations, Codes, and Policies — And Comply with Them

These laws exist for a reason, both for the protection of your residents and for yours. The quickest way to have your community shuttered is to be out of compliance with your state’s RCFE regulations. That also means current administrators need to stay current by attending  RCFE continuing education classes. You went into caregiving to do just that:  give care. How can you adequately do that if you’re out of compliance, or don’t even know what codes and policies your community is supposed to be complying with?

Moreover, having a firm grasp of your state’s regulations could very well be crucial down the line. Don’t be afraid to wield them like a shield — the first line of defense towards any future liability claims.

Need to brush up on your policy? Stay up to date by joining a subscription service for Provider Information Notices (PINs). Health and Safety Code (H&S) code1569.155 requires California RCFEs to subscribe to such a service..

4. Communicate Regularly

Not only is communication vital so that everyone on your team can always be on the same page, but it’s also a regulatory requirement. The law mandates that any change of condition in the resident — say, they have a urinary tract infection or they’re more confused than usual — must be communicated to their physician and responsible party (i.e. a family member), if any.

This makes sense, of course. A change in an individual’s condition can have life or death consequences, and a lapse in communication could prevent a resident from receiving critical treatment. 

Shift changes present a particular challenge in this regard. There’s a potential for information to get lost in the transition between your facility’s day and night teams. Certain symptoms, such as insomnia — a potential indicator and risk factor of depression — might only present themselves late in the evening, so it’s imperative everyone is kept in the loop, and that changes are noted in writing.

Let’s not forget your duty as a certified RCFE Administrator to maintain communication with your state licensing entity. Any time a resident experiences an unusual incident — such as a fall, an injury, or a medical emergency requiring a trip out to the hospital — a report must be made to your Licensing Program Analyst at the Department of Social Services(DSS) with within 1 business day via telephone, and within 7 days via a written report. This takes us to our next tip.

5. Document, Document, Document

Any time there is a resident incident, such as a fall, it must be documented — either internally, if it isn’t that serious, or on a State-provided form to be submitted to the DSS if you called 911 or something similar. Like the above, incidents need to be reported to the resident’s physician and responsible party, and it’s best to do this in writing so you have a paper trail.

Liability, though you might not want to think about it, should always be a concern. Thus, it’s wise to perform internal audits and random record reviews on a routine basis. You always want to be able to certify compliance if the need arises. This is where the term “defensive documentation” comes into play. When you document incidents, or anything really, specificity, precision, and descriptive detail are all musts.

Resident personnel, and administrative records—must be secured in a HIPAA compliant manner. What does this mean? Records should be kept locked. Employees should not have access to administrative or personnel records. Families cannot have access to resident records without consent or a record release form. Computers must be password protected, on an intranet and passwords change every 45-60 days. As a guideline, take a look at the list of documents and records that must be kept at residential care facilities in California. Remember that every state is different, so unless your facility is located in California, what you are required to retain might be different.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

The words “this is my island” spring to mind. This facility is yours, and as an RCFE Administrator, you cannot be afraid to say no. We covered this in part in Tips #1 and #2, what to do in the beginning, but there’s a corollary on the other end of the spectrum:  what to do when an end is inevitable.

If an employee misbehaves, routinely underperforms, or puts your residents or facility in any modicum of risk (health, liability, or otherwise), then it is your duty to terminate them promptly. With the safety and wellbeing of those in your care on the line, they must be your first primary concern.

But what if an individual’s medical needs exceed your facility’s abilities?

It’s sad to say, but this is a quandary you will likely face dealing with residents suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia. Much as you might want to keep them in your care, your license might not permit it. The care they require might go beyond the scope of what you can supply. In these situations, or in cases of residents who exhibit violent behaviors or a flagrant disregard for community rules, letting go of a resident might be a necessary course of action as well.

The Essential Component of Success

Looking back on the six tips we just shared, you might notice that at their core they are all about the same thing: care. 

Caring enough to do things right. Providing the best care. 

Take time to assure your level of care by maintaining compliance and communication. 

Although there is a lot more to running a successful RCFEcommunity than just these 6 things, mastery of these will give you a great foundation to build your business on. In the event that you need additional support or training, the experts here at Assisted Living Education are always here to lend a hand.

Assisted Living Education is the premier provider of RCFE certification, RCFE classes, licensing, products and services for assisted living. Our teachers are industry professionals with many years of experience that are engaging, entertaining and highly informative. We offer RCFE consulting services and share real RCFE experience that will help you be successful in this fast-growing career industry.