State Assisted Living Policy: 1998. Assisted Living Philosophy


Assisted living in many states represents a more consumer focused model which organizes the setting and the delivery of service around the resident rather than the facility. States which emphasize consumers use terms such as independence, dignity, privacy, decision-making, and autonomy as a foundation for their policy. Statutes, licensing regulations, and Medicaid requirements in twenty-two states, up from 15 states in 1996, contain a statement of their philosophy of assisted living. (See table in appendix.) States which have adopted or proposed this philosophy are Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois (demonstration program), Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana (draft), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Massachusetts includes their language in a section that allows the Secretary of Elder Affairs to waive certain requirements for bathrooms as long as the residences meet the stated principles.

Oregon's definition states that: "Assisted living promotes resident self-direction and participation in decisions that emphasize choice, dignity, privacy, individuality, independence and home-like surroundings." Florida's statute states the purpose of assisted living is "to promote availability of appropriate services for elderly and disabled persons in the least restrictive and most home-like environment, to encourage the development of facilities which promote the dignity, individuality, privacy and decision-making ability...." The laws also state that facilities should be operated and regulated as residential environments and not as medical or nursing facilities. The regulations require that facilities develop policies which allow residents to age-in-place and which maximize independence, dignity, choice, and decision-making of residents.

New Jersey amended its rules to emphasize the values of assisted living and introduce managed risk. Facilities must provide and coordinate services "in a manner which promotes and encourages assisted living values." These values are concerned with the organization, development, and implementation of services and other facility or program features so as to promote and encourage each resident's choice, dignity, independence, individuality, and privacy in a home-like environment. The values promote aging-in-place and shared responsibility.

Although the philosophy of assisted living is increasingly found in state policy, facilities must take additional steps to operationalize it. Aspects of assisted living that might be considered to convert philosophy to action include the living units required or provided, whether living units may be shared by choice, use of a shared-risk process to develop a service plan and training for facility staff on the principles of assisted living. Eight of the twenty-two states with a statement of the philosophy of assisted living also require apartment units. Rules in four states have mixed requirements, allowing bedrooms in some arrangements and apartments in new construction. Fifteen of the states allow sharing (apartments or bedrooms) only by choice of the residents. Ten states use a shared risk process for developing tenant service agreements or service plans. Connecticut, which licenses assisted living service agencies and not facilities, does not have a statement of philosophy, but residences must offer apartments, and sharing is allowed only by choice. Two other states, Ohio and Oklahoma (draft rules), have a shared-risk provision and no statement of philosophy. Four states include a philosophy of assisted living but do not address the remaining areas which would operationalize the philosophy. Eleven states require that the training curriculum for staff must cover the principles of assisted living.

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