The demand for elder care increases as the baby-boomer population ages. Currently, there are about 28,900 residential-care communities in the U.S. alone, including assisted-living facilities. If you're planning to start this kind of business in Florida, research the legal requirements thoroughly. Florida assisted-living license requirements will depend on what types of services you'll provide at your facility.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted-living facilities provide housing, meals, health care and other services to the elderly. Some also appeal to adults who cannot live independently or who have special needs. They typically offer help with daily activities like bathing, housekeeping, toileting and more. These facilities employ nurses for basic health care services, such as insulin injections, blood-pressure monitoring and medication management.

Residents can choose to live in shared or individual apartments, private rooms or semiprivate sleeping areas. Most facilities also have shared living areas for cooking, eating and socializing and provide recreational activities. Those who opt for assisted living are not necessarily sick or disabled. In general, they need some assistance with day-to-day activities but don't require the levels of care available in nursing homes.

Starting an Assisted-Living Facility

The first step to opening an assisted-living center in Florida is to learn about this type of business: research market and industry trends, check your competitors and estimate your capital requirements. While it's true that your audience will consist largely of older adults, you can narrow down your target market and offer specialized services. This may give you a competitive advantage and allow you to promote your business more effectively.

For example, you could set up innovative wellness programs, provide physiotherapy services or provide residents with lots of different entertainment options. Look beyond traditional services like bathing, walking and dressing. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, about four in 10 people residing in these facilities suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. You may provide specialized services for those struggling with these issues, such as memory care units, speech therapy, social-engagement programs and activities that meet their needs and interests.

Make a business plan and write down everything. Consider your budget and startup costs, business goals, staff requirements and types of services. Study other assisted-living homes in your area, check their offerings and try to come up with a more complete program for your future residents. Determine where the facility will be located and how you're going to promote it; opening an assisted-living home outside the city, for instance, usually involves lower costs because you'll pay less per square foot for a property or land.

Florida Assisted-Living License Requirements

The sunshine state is home to about 2,400 assisted-living communities, each serving approximately 28 residents. More than 76% of facilities offer podiatry services, and 80% have depression-screening practices, reports the National Center for Assisted Living. Around 65 provide skilled nursing services, and 18% only serve residents with dementia. The competition is tight, but you can still build a successful business as long as you have a good understanding of the industry.

Assisted-living homes in this state are regulated by the Agency for Health Care Administration. Florida assisted-living license requirements are directly related to the services you plan to offer. In addition to a general business license and permits, you must apply for a standard license or a specialty license. The former allows for basic assistance with feeding, dressing, medication management and other standard services, while specialty licenses are issued to facilities where residents can "age in place" in familiar surroundings.

There are three types of specialty licenses: limited mental health, limited nursing services and extended congregate care. An ECC-licensed assisted-living home, for instance, is allowed to provide all the nursing services offered under both limited nursing services and standard licenses; those who reside in these facilities typically have greater needs than those in standard-living homes and hence require special care. To obtain your license, you must first complete a 26-hour training program at an approved center and get a score of 75% or higher. The AHCA core training study guide will be provided by your instructor.