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Recent Changes to Assisted Living Laws

By on December 30, 2012

Dome of Capital Building in Olympia, WAA main role of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) is to track legislation that could potentially affect their members. This not only helps assisted living communities be aware of pending changes to the law, but gives them an opportunity to help shape legislation before it comes to fruition.

According 2012 State Regulatory and Legislative Snapshot ALFA has been tracking 586 bills that would change change assisted, and so far, 186 of those bills have been enacted. Their report outlines, state by state, changes to assisted living laws, big and small.

Here is a list of states with significant changes to their assisted living rules and regulations over the course of 2012, and how those changes affect communities and consumers.


Idaho’s lawmakers in Boise passed a law requiring certified medical assistants, many of whom work at senior communities, to undergo background check and fingerprint check.


Maryland’s legislators in its capital Annapolis passed law that allows assisted living residents to administer medications to their spouse or domestic partner.


In Lansing, Michigan lawmakers senior communities can accept phone orders for prescriptions for residents.

North Carolina

In Raleigh, North Carolina the state government instituted laws with stricter requirements for community’s that care for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. ALFA claims that this legislation “poses problems” for providers and could hinder assisted living communities’ ability to serve those with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia.


In HarrisburgPennsylvania elected officials determined that responsibility for assisted living licensing, inspections,  enforcement and so on has been transferred from the Office of Long Term Living to Bureau of Adult Residential Licensing. It’s unclear how this will affect the assisted living industry and assisted living residents, and ALFA did not issue an opinion about this change.


In Salt Lake, the legislators of Utah enacted yet firmer requirements regarding staff screening. In addition to the background checks that were already required, a “wrap-back” screening system for staff has been initiated that will notify the state’s regulatory agency of new arrests and convictions.


While not impacting resident care or facility operation, it’s interesting to note the State of Washington’s legislators in Olympia have brought their assisted living regulation up to date and call a spade a spade. They’ve updated language in their laws and regulations and now refer to assisted living facilities as “assisted living facilities” rather than “boarding homes”.

Do you have thoughts about any of the rules changes or any other feedback? We welcome your comments below.

(Photograph of the Capital Dome in Olympia, Washington used via Creative Commons License courtesy Flickr user HBarrison.)


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Jeff attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks on an academic scholarship, and also studied creative writing at University of Hull (UK). He found his calling in 2009 when he began working with seniors and their families at A Place for Mom, and has immersed himself in writing and research about issues affecting older adults. He also enjoys literature, spending time with his daughter and recording music

  1. Chris Mullen
    Hi, I am very impressed and appreciative with the work you are doing. I am 55 and live in a senior assisted building. It is very depressing. I call it a masoleum where we died but forgot to lay down. It's a big gossip pit with no activities. Thanks to my dog, I have a reason to get up in the morning. They call this a dog friendly facility, but I have yet to see the friendly part. We're on a big piece of land but it can't be used. There is a patio area where I saw a man out there once this summer and one BBQ. I am in the process of helping my sister-in-law placing mom and dad in a facility. Then I'm going to look for a trailer somewhere so I can have a little bit of yard space that my dog and I can use. Thanks for the inspiration. Chris