What Do Assisted Living Waiver Programs Cover?

Author: Sarah Williams
Reviewed By: Kristi Bickmann

Assisted living waiver programs cover essential support services that enable seniors to remain in a community environment rather than entering a more restrictive setting, such as a nursing home, but exact services differ between states. Service examples include help with personal care and everyday tasks. Home- and Community-Based Services waivers don’t usually cover costs associated with room and board in an assisted living facility; waiver beneficiaries must typically cover these costs from their private funds.  

Support services in assisted living

Assisted living caregivers use personalized care plans to provide tailored care and support for each individual. While some residents require few services to maintain independence, others need support with several tasks to live safely and comfortably in a community setting. Standard services covered by Medicaid waivers include help with activities of daily living, such as transferring to and from bed, moving throughout the facility and dining assistance, and personal care, including bathing, dressing and toileting.

Waiver programs also pay for help with instrumental activities of daily living, such as laundry, housekeeping, maintenance and transportation. In some states, facilities may also offer medication management services, depending on their licensing terms, and states may include intermittent skilled nursing and therapeutic activities within their waiver programs. For seniors aging at home, Medicaid waivers often pay for respite care in an assisted living community, giving permanent caregivers a break. However, such funding doesn’t include bed and board costs.  

Life enrichment and quality of life  

Medicaid waiver programs must support the overall health and welfare of recipients. As part of this, funding covers daily activities that include the diverse dimensions of wellness. Activity examples include fitness classes, art lessons, devotional worship and intergenerational activities, and many facilities offer excursions. Federal funding also covers the use of communal amenities designed to enhance enjoyment and quality of life, and many communities have a blend of indoor and outdoor spaces where seniors can socialize, relax and pursue a range of interests.