start an rcfe

How to Start a Successful RCFE

With over 10,000 seniors turning 65 daily in the U.S., there is a growing demand for senior care services. On the whole, the home care service industry saw a rise in revenue from $100 billion in 2016 to $225 billion in 2020, globally. 

With the RCFE industry showing continued growth, there is no better time to embark on this rewarding career. 

Here’s how to start a successful RCFE

People contemplate opening a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly for any number of reasons. Sometimes the idea occurs because an individual inherits a spacious house with multiple bedrooms, or perhaps they cared for an elderly relative and found caretaking satisfying and fulfilling. 

Regardless of the motivation, there are some commonalities throughout the licensure and management process that will help ensure your RCFE opens and operates successfully.

This article will explore both the overview of requirements to get your RCFE licensed in California, as well as the regular duties of a successful owner-operated RCFE administrator. 

First, let’s start by looking closer at how to obtain proper licensure and certification for both you and your space.

Obtaining RCFE Credentials for Your Home and for Yourself

When you turn your home into an assisted living facility, or even if you purchase an existing RCFE, you will need to apply to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to properly license your business. 

Assuming you plan to run the facility yourself, you will also personally need to complete an RCFE administrator training course and pass the certification exam. 

The CDSS also requires administrators to complete 40 hours of continuing education hours (CEUS) every two years. Your employees also have required training hours they must complete for the facility to meet compliance. 

When planning for licensure it is important to budget accordingly for all RCFE training, licensing, and certification expenses. In addition, before your RCFE license can be approved, you will be required to have three months of operating expenses set aside in a business account. 

Preparing a realistic budget is part of the license application process and is a good exercise in planning for weekly, monthly, yearly and unexpected expenses. It is important to plan ahead for these costs so they do not slow you down. 

Once financing is accounted for you can proceed with the application process.

Assisted Living License Application

With the proper guidance, completing the application for your RCFE License can be a less stressful process. In addition to filling out all CDSS required forms correctly, you’ll also want to prepare the following documentation:

  •         Admissions policies and forms
  •         Resident house rules
  •         Employee handbook
  •         Job descriptions
  •         Plan of operation
  •         Sample menu and activities calendar
  •         Employee training plans
  •         Medication policies and procedures

Due to the importance of getting application documentation correct, many applicants will choose to hire a company, such as Assisted Living Education, to assist in the application process. 

Assistance from professionals who are familiar with CDSS procedures can save you a great deal of time and stress, and help get your RCFE license application approved quickly and efficiently.

RCFE Administrator Certification

In addition to submitting your RCFE License application and waiting for the state to process it, you will also need to take the required 80 hours of certification training for an RCFE administrator.

After successfully completing the course, you then must take the required CDSS examination and pass with a minimum score of 70% within 60 days of the course completion.

In order to obtain administrator certification in California, you must be at least 21 years old and meet educational requirements that vary with the size of the facility you manage. 

For example, if operating an RCFE with 15 or fewer residents, you must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Administrators of larger facilities may also need to earn some college credits as outlined by the CDSS.

Day to Day Administrator Duties

Now that you have secured the proper licensing and certification to own and operate an RCFE, you can start to plan what the day-to-day of a successful RCFE might look like. 

Owning an RCFE is a serious commitment. You are engaged directly or indirectly in the lives of your clients 24/7.  Here is a breakdown of some of the client and business activities you will encounter on a daily basis. 

Business Demands

No matter how much fulfillment an RCFE brings to the administrator, it still needs to remain solvent:

  •         Accounting
  •         Payroll
  •         Hiring and training
  •         Admissions
  •         Marketing and tours
  •         Communication with family members
  • Communication with CDSS and completing reports timely

Resident Demands

Depending on the number of residents in your home you may sometimes have to assume some caregiving duties:

  •         Housekeeping
  •         Cooking
  •         Personal hygiene
  •         Dressing
  •         Bathing
  •         Emergency availability

Multiple Rewards

In spite of considerable responsibilities, the benefits of running an RCFE are even greater:

  •         Receiving satisfaction from helping others
  •         Operating a profitable business
  •         Seeing residents develop friendships and support each other
  •         Enjoying movies, activities, and field trips with residents
  •         Helping residents eat better and develop new interests
  •         Knowing you have made a difference

Strategies for Success

In this article, we have covered the basics of what makes a successful RCFE from licensing your space to administrator certification and even what to expect day-to-day. If you have read this far and would like to explore a possible career as an RCFE owner or administrator please consider the steps below:

  •         Visit Assisted Living Education for more information on RCFE classes and the path to becoming an RCFE administrator.
  •         Register for the online RCFE orientation on the CDSS website as the first step in applying for an assisted living license.
  •         Contact an RCFE in your area and volunteer to speak with some of the residents and employees to learn more. 

At Assisted Living Education, we’re ready to answer your questions and assist you on the path to making a difference in the lives of seniors by opening a successful RCFE. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

People Also Ask:

How much do RCFE owners make? 
In general, the monthly income generated by an RCFE can range from $5,000 – $15,000 per month.

Is an RCFE a good buisness? 
Due to a surging senior population, the demand for RCFEs is projected to grow by over 20% by 2030.




About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.