How to Check for Assisted Living Violations
Last Updated: November 15, 2019
Families who are searching for assisted living may be faced with the challenge of finding information about the background and licensing of the communities that they are exploring.
While there is a national nursing home website to view the audit and licensing history of Medicare-approved nursing homes, there is no such website for assisted living communities. That’s because assisted living is regulated at the state level, as opposed to nursing homes, which are regulated at both the federal and state levels.
A Place for Mom provides a list of assisted living state licensing websites across the United States, ranking each state based on the amount of available information online and the usability of the websites that provide that information.
Accessible and Transparent State Websites for Assisted Living
How well does your state provide information about care providers and their histories on the web? These rankings should give you a good indication of a quality state website.
The criteria that we used to build this list includes:
- Accessible information through a search form rather than a mere downloadable list.
- Assisted living records are centralized on one website rather than across a few websites.
- Frequently updated assisted living information.
- The assisted living website is intuitive and easy to navigate.
- There is detailed information about the community, which includes the following:
- Address, contact information, contact name, owner
- History of state inspections and documented violations
- License number and expiration date
- Viewable documentation for inspections and violations
Unfortunately, not all websites are up to par. For instance, in Massachusetts, you are only able to download a list of licensed communities that provide no information about inspections reports. Because of this, Massachusetts ranked #36 on our list.
If you would like information about an assisted living community’s background but cannot find it on your state website, don’t hesitate to call your local Area Agency on Aging (AAoA) and make an appointment to speak with your local Long Term Care Ombudsman. They can provide this type of information over the phone or via mail. You can locate your local AAoA office at www.eldercare.gov.
The Top 10 State Websites for Assisted Living
Some states have done well in providing consumers websites where they can investigate potential assisted living communities.
The top 10 states that are listed below have created consumer-friendly, easy-to-use websites made for researching community licensure and any issues or regulation violations in its recent history.
Here are the top 10 states:
- Florida | Agency for Health Care Administration’s FloridaHealthFinder.gov | We liked: Easy-to-use form, frequently updated data, all records fully accessible
- Alabama | Department of Public Health’s Healthcare Facilities Directory | ADPH – Statement of Deficiencies | We liked: Straightforward web form, clean look, abundant information
- Washington | Department of Social and Health Services Adult Family Home Locator | We liked: Simple search form and easy to find enforcement letters
- Arizona | Department of Health Services Assisted Living Facility Search | We liked: Up to date info and centralized search form
- Georgia | Department of Community Health Map2Care Facility Finder | We liked: Convenient search tool and with facility compliance forms available
- Texas | Department of Aging of Disability Services Facility Directory | We liked: Relatively easy-to-use website and quality ratings for many provider types
- Virginia | Department of Social Services Facility Finder | We liked: Convenient search form and detailed inspections info
- Nevada | Nevada Health Statistics Portal | We liked: Easy to search by the name of the facility, although it would also be helpful to search by care type
- New Mexico | Department of Health | We liked: Good, accessible info despite somewhat clunky search form
- New York | Department of Health Assisted Living Resources| Adult Care Reports (includes listing of reports of assisted living communities and other senior care providers dating back to 2002) | We liked: Detailed information about providers is accessible, although one disadvantage is that information is spread across two sites instead of centrally located.
Some Additional State Websites for Assisted Living
Here are the remaining 40 states and the District of Columbia, ranked based on the usability of their sites and the amount of information they contain.
If you visit your own state’s website and find that it’s not up to your standards, consider writing to your state legislators. Urge them to make it quick and easy to find information about licensed long-term care providers and their backgrounds.
#11 – #20
- Delaware | Licensed and Certified Long Term Care Facilities | Survey Reports
- Colorado | Health Facility List Selection Options: Assisted Living Residence | Consumer Resources – Assisted Living Residences
- Indiana | Health Facilities Consumer Report Search1
- Michigan | Statewide Search for Adult Foster Care / Homes for the Aged Facilities
- Connecticut | State of Connecticut’s eLicensing Website | Health Care Facility Regulatory Action Orders | Regulatory Action Report
- District of Columbia | Health Care Facilities Licensing | Health Care Facility Inspection Reports
- Maine | Assisted Living Facilities Search
- Oklahoma | Directory of Oklahoma Licensed Long-Term Care Facilities | Provider Survey/Inspection Search
- Oregon | Facility Lists | Substantiated Facility Abuse Complaints
- California | Search for a Licensed Facility
#21 – #30
- Minnesota | Health Care Facility and Provider Database | DHS Licensing Information Lookup | 4 Steps to locating Survey Information for Minnesota’s providers
- Missouri | Missouri Long-Term Care Facilities
- Pennsylvania | Long Term Care Services
- Vermont | Standard Survey Results – Assisted Living | Standard Survey Results – Residential Care
- Ohio | Ohio Department of Health, Division of Quality Assurance
- South Carolina | Licensed Facilities by Type | Health Regulation Sanctions – Administrative Orders, Consent Orders and Sanction Letters
- West Virginia | Health Care Facility Lookup Lists
- Idaho | Residential Care or Assisted Living Consumers’ Page
- Illinois | Assisted Living/Shared Housing Licensed Establishments
- Tennessee | Facility Directories
#31 – #40
- Wyoming | Wyoming Healthcare Licensing and Surveys | Facility Directory
- Iowa | Health Facilities Division
- Maryland | Services Search | Office of Health Care Quality: Licensee Directory
- Wisconsin | Assisted Living Directories and Facility Profiles | Division of Quality Assurance Provider Search
- Montana | Facility Finder
- Massachusetts | Nursing Home Consumer Information| Nursing Home Search Page
- Rhode Island | Rhode Island Department of Health Online Verification and Complaint Submission Site
- North Dakota | North Dakota Basic Care Facilities | Assisted Living Facilities
- Nebraska | License Information System Search | Facility Rosters
- New Jersey | Search Licensed Facilities and Services
#41 – #51
- North Carolina | Facility Listings | Listing of Facilities with Penalties
- Mississippi | Health Facilities Licensure and Certification
- Utah | Health Facility Information | Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Report Card
- New Hampshire | Health Facilities Administration Publications | Housing Services
- South Dakota | Office of Health Facilities Licensure & Certification
- Alaska | ADHS: Search Form
- Arkansas | Arkansas Department of Public Health- Long Term Care Facility Search
- Kansas | Adult Care Provider Directory
- Hawaii | Office of Health Care Assurance: State Licensing Section
- Kentucky | Certified Assisted Living Communities in Kentucky | Nursing Home Survey Inspection Findings
- Louisiana | Adult Residential Care
Ways To Check an Assisted Living Community
Each of these websites works a little differently but generally serve the same purpose. They have search forms that allow you to verify if a provider is licensed. You can also see if there have been any concerning issues regarding the facility or its staff. Take a deeper look and see if these issues have been resolved.
Say, for example, that you were interested in a small senior community in Lake City, Florida, called “Summers Assisted Living Facility.” You wanted to verify all the following information:
- It was appropriately licensed.
- It hasn’t had any issues that concern you.
- If it did have concerning issues, those have since been resolved.
Here are the steps you would follow:
- Visit the state of Florida search form. Choose “assisted living facility” as provider type and “Summers Assisted Living Facility” for the provider’s name. You can also enter information in other fields, such as city name, to narrow the search further. In this case, there is just one community in Florida called “Summers Assisted Living Facility,” so there is one result.
- From the results page, click the name of the facility you are researching. You will then be taken to a page that allows you to see the specific license types that the community has, the number of residents it’s licensed to house, access to inspections reports, any legal actions against the community and several other records. You can click “inspections reports” to view particulars of every inspection report. In this case, you can see that this year, there was legal action by the state against Summers that resulted in a $1,000 fine. This should pique your interest. You can click the case number in orange to learn more about the scenario that led to the legal action.
- After clicking the case number, you’re taken to a page that lists all historic legal actions against the community. In this instance, there is just one legal action, so click “select” to be taken to detailed documentation about the fine. After looking over the documentation, you can see the community was fined because one of the staff members had not yet undergone a background check when the community was inspected.
As you do this research, it’s ideal to read the nature of the violation should you find one. Make sure to focus your attention and concern first on issues that might immediately jeopardize resident safety or indicate a problematic pattern.
Characteristics of Good Assisted Living Providers
When looking up personal care services for your loved one, violations of rules and regulations are clear red flags. However, looking for violations alone are not enough for you to decide whether or not a specific senior living community will meet your criteria.
Ultimately, what makes a good facility depends on your specific needs. Still, here are some general characteristics to consider:
- The assisted living services and staff provided match the specific needs of your loved one, especially if they have developmental abilities or deteriorating mental health.
- There are activities available that may provide fun or comfort in daily living for your loved one.
- They have great reviews online from current residents and their families.
- The community is in a convenient location to make visits easier.2
Additional Information on Federal and State Regulations For Assisted Living Facilities
As previously noted, the assisted living industry answers specifically to state regulations. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not currently regulated by the federal government.
What Are Some Regulations That Apply to Assisted Living Facilities?
Because assisted living regulations apply at the state level, they may also vary by state. This is why checking the individual state websites is so important. You can find the agency governing each individual state in the lists above.
From there, you may be able to access state regulations via the website or contact someone who can answer your questions. Note that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services sometimes provides state-specific information.
Does Georgia Have Regulations on Patient Types for Assisted Living?
Let’s use Georgia as an example. The Georgia Department of Community Health governs assisted living facilities. While easy to use for finding specific facilities, finding information on the rules and regulations is more difficult.
Nevertheless, a Google search for “Georgia Regulations on Patient Types for Assisted Living” yields two promising results. The first good source comes from the GDC website and is titled “Rules for Assisted Living Communities.”3 This document is long and technical. It may also require a working knowledge of elder law. The second promising result is a Georgia-specific document provided by the HHS, which answers the question above in simpler language.4
It points out that patients must have the ability to evacuate to a safe place in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or hurricane. This not only includes able-bodied patients on foot, but also those who can quickly access a wheelchair and move to safety. Because of this, accepting bedridden patients is generally not allowed at assisted living communities in Georgia. Patients may also need to be able to identify and administer their own medication.
If you were doing this research and did not come across the second source, it would be best to reach out to the department directly. Most agencies provide phone numbers or email addresses for you to contact them with any questions. Remember that you can also rely on your Long Term Care Ombudsman to get the answers you need.
Finding the right assisted living facility for your loved one may be more difficult than you at first predicted. What are some of the challenges you have encountered so far when tackling this task? Share them with us in the comments below.
1 Indiana State Department of Health. (n.d.) Health care facility consumer information. Retrieved from: https://www.in.gov/isdh/23432.htm
2 Howley, Elaine K. (2018). What factors make for the best assisted living facilities? U.S. News. Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/best-assisted-living/articles/what-factors-make-for-the-best-assisted-living-facilities
3 Georgia Department of Community Health. (2012). Rules for assisted living communities—interpretive guidelines. Retrieved from: https://dch.georgia.gov/document/publication/181156378alcigs2-2pdf/download
4 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2015). Compendium of residential care and assisted living regulations and policy: 2015 edition. Retrieved from: https://aspe.hhs.gov/system/files/pdf/110446/15alcom-GA.pdf
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