Board and Care Homes – a Great Option for Seniors


For seniors who prefer to live in a smaller setting, a board and care home may be a good option. These facilities are residential houses that have been outfitted and staffed for a small group of seniors to live in a family-like setting. Board and care homes go by many different names, depending on the area they are located. In some states, they are most commonly referred to as group homes or residential care homes. In California, “board and care home” is the most commonly used terminology.


What’s Included?

Board and care homes are meant for seniors who need some assistance with daily activities but do not require skilled nursing assistance. The level of care provided is similar to what’s offered at assisted living communities. Typically, all three meals and snacks are included in the cost of rent. Most homes include cleaning and laundry services as well. Caregivers are on standby to assist with activities like eating, medication management, toileting, and personal grooming.

Licensing requirements vary by state. In California, licensing is handled by the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services. Your CarePatrol representative will be able to help you find a reputable board and care home that meets your loved one’s needs.


How is it Different?

Assisted Living facilities tend to be more well-known than board and care homes because they house more residents – often 50 to 200 or more. They also have a robust activity program.    Also, food is served in a main dining room.  These are the main 3 differences between the two types of facilities. There is no standard definition for board and care homes throughout the United States. In California, a board and care home is a senior living facility licensed to care for 6 to 20 residents who need some assistance, but do not require ongoing skilled nursing care.

Outside of California, the requirements and terminology do change a little. So keep that in mind if you live out of state, or you are helping a senior loved one who lives in another state. Residential care home, group home, and personal care home are all terms that refer to essentially the same thing.


What Should We Look Out For?

Board and care homes are a great option for seniors who are transitioning from independent living to long-term care. While researching options available in your area, make sure any board and care homes you look at meet the following criteria:

  • It has a cozy environment that feels more like a home than an institution.
  • It has adequate staffing so that all residents get plenty of attention.
  • Residents are able to relax and spend the day how they choose.

Now, board and care homes are not the best option for all seniors. It’s important that you consider assisted living facilities as an option as well. Typically, assisted living facilities differ from board and care homes in the following ways:

  • Assisted Living options have more amenities and planned recreational activities.
  • Board and care homes typically have shared kitchen and living spaces whereas some assisted living residents have their own full apartment or attached kitchenette.
  • The smaller population at board and care homes can make it more difficult for seniors to find friends.

No matter what type of assistance your loved one needs, your local CarePatrol representative can help you find the perfect fit. Set up a time to talk with us if you have questions about board and care homes, assisted living, or any other concern.

About the author
Sue Gibson


CarePatrol of San Mateo County

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