A National Study of Assisted Living for the Frail Elderly: Final Summary Report. B. Overall ASPE Study Goals


The overall purpose of the study was to learn about the role ALFs play in providing a residential setting and supportive long-term care services for the frail elderly. As part of this process, we reviewed the literature on assisted living, conducted focus group interviews with residents and families to help define the meaning of quality in assisted living, interviewed developers, and examined and reported on state regulation and financing for assisted living in surveys in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Reports on these project activities continue to be available from ASPE and can either be ordered from ASPE or downloaded from ASPE’s Internet site. (The address for both is shown on the inside of the front cover of this Executive Summary.)

Even if some facilities embody the key tenets of assisted living's philosophical model, that is, policies emphasizing autonomy, dignity, and service flexibility that facilitate maximum independence and aging in place, the degree to which this model predominates in the industry is unknown.

In addition, the project involved substantial collection of primary data in ALFs. The specific objectives of the study’s primary data collection on ALFs were to:

  • Determine the size of the assisted living industry;

  • Describe the basic characteristics of the assisted living industry, particularly in terms of philosophy, services, accommodations, staff and basic price;

  • Describe the residents in assisted living;

  • Examine the extent to which the supply of ALFs embodied the key philosophical tenets of assisted living; and

  • Examine the effect of key ALF service and environmental characteristics on such issues as price and the ability of residents to age in place.

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