As the baby boomers near retirement age, the demand for assisted-living facilities will grow exponentially. These facilities are similar to nursing homes in that they provide living areas for the elderly; however, they do not provide the same level of medical care as nursing homes. Instead, assisted-living homes offer private living areas, meals and a moderate level of assistance with day-to-day tasks. In addition, they offer a social setting for the elderly, who often suffer from the isolation of living alone.
Apply for licensing. All assisted living facilities must be licensed to legally operate. This process involves inspections and interviews, and goes beyond the requirements for the average business. To find out the specific requirements for assisted-living facilities in your area, contact the agency in your state that is charged with the responsibility of overseeing assisted-living facilities and licensure requirements.
Choose your facility. Will you offer care for a small group of people or for several hundred? The type of facility you have will affect whether you can convert a single-family home to suit your business or whether you will have to build a facility.
Obtain financing. If your assisted-living program will be small, you may be able to finance it by using your savings or borrowing from friends and family. If you plan to operate a larger business, however, you will need to contact banks to apply for business loans. They will want to examine your business plan and ensure that you have a solid business model. Depending on your state, special grants or loans may be available if you provide living areas for low-income seniors.
Set up your facility and hire staff. You will need operational and administrative personnel, as well as caregivers. Check with your state's licensing department to determine the level of staffing required and the types of professional certifications employees must have.
Decide how you will organize your facility. Choose activities to offer and plan how mealtimes and transportation will work for your residents. Consider partnering with local community centers or workout facilities to coordinate programs.
Advertise at local senior and community centers, and hold an open house to attract customers.
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.