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Learn about Board and Care Homes

Board and care homes offer a group living situation for seniors and people with disabilities who need help with meal preparation, medication monitoring, and personal care. They provide a safe, supportive, home-like setting for people who cannot live alone but do not need daily medical care.

What is a board and care home?

Board and care facilities offer a home-like environment for small groups of elderly or disabled residents. Unlike residents at an Assisted Living Facility, residents at a board and care home may have their own room but usually not an apartment. A board and care home may also require residents to share their room with one or more roommates. Meals are eaten in a group dining room, and housekeeping services are provided. Staff usually live at the home and may assist residents with daily activities like bathing, eating, and toileting.

Board and care homes do not offer nursing or medical care, but they often provide greater assistance with personal care needs than is available at supported housing facilities. They do not generally offer planned activities or transportation services. Some board and care homes specialize in meeting the needs of people with specific diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, or with specific developmental disabilities.

Board and care homes are not regulated by the federal government but are frequently licensed by state governments. Your state’s licensing requirements will affect the services and levels of care that board and care homes in your community are required to provide. The licensing agency may use a different name, such as residential care facility, to describe board and care homes.

What should I look for in a board and care home?

The range of services offered by board and care facilities varies greatly. Since board and care facilities may or may not be subject to state regulations, it is very important to obtain personal recommendations and to visit the facility several times before considering a move. Board and care facilities provide a limited range of services, and it is important to consider whether a facility can meet one’s short-term and possible long-term needs. Have a trusted advisor or lawyer read over any contract before signing or paying a fee. Before you visit or call facilities, print copies of GetCare's Board and Care Home Checklist, which provides detailed questions to help you to evaluate and compare facilities.

How do I pay for a board and care home?

Board and care facilities are often less expensive than other housing options, but rates vary greatly depending on services provided and geographic location. Since there is no common broadly accepted definition of services included in board and care, it is important to find out exactly what is included in a facility’s monthly or annual fee.