What Is a RCFE (Residential Care Facility for the Elderly)?

California is unique in many ways. We have the best weather in the entire country, we are cultural trendsetters, and we are the only state to host the residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) model. You may wonder what RCFEs are and how they differ from other senior housing models. We will answer that question and more in this article.

RCFEs, commonly referred to as Care Homes or Residential Care, include Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), and Memory Care to seniors who are age 60 and over. Aside from housing, RCFEs deliver care to senior residents along with assistance with daily living, activities, and general supervision as needed. Plans are custom-tailored to meet the needs of each individual and folded into the medical services provision of special care plans.

How Is the RCFE Environment?

A good Residential Care Facilities has an atmosphere that is warm and inviting, just like home, and  promotes maximum possible independence and dignity. RCFEs encourage the involvement and support of family and community members to maintain or improve the quality of life for their residents. Residents have access to a host of supportive services, such as housekeeping, personal care, dressing, bathing, and the safekeeping and distribution of medications to its residents for self-administration.

One of the benefits of an RCFE is that it acts as an intermediary between independent living and 24-hour nursing care. RCFEs can act as a bridge for the person who is no longer able to live independently but does not require round-the-clock assistance and supervision. They are not medical facilities, which means they don’t necessarily have nurses or doctors on staff (or at least there’s no requirement to have them staffed). Think of them more as assisted living and less as nursing homes.

RCFEs provide safe and healthy living accommodations and services. Some of the ancillary services include but are not limited to:

  •         Consistent monitoring of the resident’s mental and physical state of being
  •         Regular, healthy meals and snacks with diet modifications
  •         Recreational activities and social engagement in a fun environment
  •         Transportation and outings

Comparatively, Skilled Nursing Facilities provide 24/7 skilled professional medical services. This includes more specialized care that can only be treated by qualified, credentialed health care workers. Skilled Nursing Facilities are medical facilities as opposed to a housing option that includes services.

What Regulations Are in Place for RCFEs?

RCFEs are designed to promote independence and self-direction to the greatest extent possible in a residential setting. An RCFE license is issued by the Department of Social Services in California. They are governed by robust regulations and must meet quality, care, and safety standards as defined by the State. They also require an inspection by the Department of Social Services and the local Fire Inspector.

To open and operate an RCFE, one must submit a license application to the Community Care Licensing Division. Applicants must provide evidence that demonstrates they are of upstanding, reputable, and responsible character in addition to all the other application requirements with which they must comply. Additional items in the application include medication policies and procedures, sample menus, how and when their staff will be trained and a sample budget. Assisted Living Education can prepare your license application for you. 

Should I Be Concerned About Covid-19 and RCFEs?

Many of the deaths that have occurred in the U.S. due to Covid-19 have occurred in the elderly population and nursing homes are a part of that equation. Like hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities are medical environments where viruses and other illnesses can spread especially among the elderly. RCFEs are not medical facilities and have not experienced the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 to the extent that medical facilities have. Still, it is always important for the elderly and those with underlying health issues to take every precaution necessary to protect against the virus. A well-run RCFE that has opened properly will have the right protocols in place to protect both the residents and themselves to the greatest extent possible.

Hopefully, this answers some of the questions you have about RCFEs. If you are worried about sending a loved one to this type of facility, don’t worry. They are a great first and gradual step back from full independent living with qualified staff that will serve your loved one well.