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Assisted Living in WA

A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities in Washington

What they're called

Official name: Boarding Homes

Common name: Assisted living facilities

To compare assisted living to board and care, skilled nursing, and other long-term residential care communities, see Residential Care Options: How to Decide.

What they offer
  • Individual living units (from single rooms to multiroom apartments with kitchen); some facilities offer shared living units
  • All meals, usually in a common dining area
  • Medication monitoring
  • Personal care services: Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing, and bathing; note: Help with ADLs not required by state regulation in Washington)
  • Social and exercise activities
  • Special care programs for residents with memory loss (most facilities)

Note: Some facilities also offer respite care and other special services.

What they cost

Median monthly fees: $4,000 (costs are higher for residents requiring memory care)

State of Washington requirements
  • Facilities are not required by state regulation to provide:
    • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
    • Intermittent nursing services
    • Medication administration (though they must provide medication assistance)
  • Facilities must permit resident to arrange for and receive outside care from licensed home healthcare, hospice, or home care agencies.
  • For facilities licensed before July 1, 1989, four residents per living unit are permitted; for facilities licensed thereafter, two residents per unit.
  • Facilities must do a preadmission assessment of any potential resident and a more detailed assessment upon admission.
State of Washington oversight

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services/Aging and Disability Services Administration (360-725-2300) licenses and regulates assisted living facilities.

How to resolve problems or offer feedback
  • For free assistance resolving issues with a facility, call the Washington long-term care ombudsman toll-free at 800-562-6028.
  • To report a violation of the rights of a boarding home (assisted living) resident, call toll-free to the Washington Aging and Disability Services Administration at 800-562-6078.
  • Rate and review assisted living facilities.
How to pay for assisted living in Washington
  • Most assisted living is paid for privately by the resident and/or his or her family.
  • For people with very low income and few assets, the Washington state Medicaid program pays for services at participating boarding homes. The amount Medicaid pays depends on the level of care needed by the resident. Not all ALFs participate in this program, and some facilities that do participate limit the number of living units they include.
  • Low-income veterans or surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for Aid and Attendance or other payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which can help pay for assisted living.
  • Some assisted living facilities offer sliding scale fees, making a higher level of care available to families that might not otherwise be able to afford it. Be sure to ask -- or ask a geriatric care manager in the area if he or she knows which facilities offer sliding scale fees.
Help finding and choosing a facility
  • Hire a geriatric care manager (most have extensive local knowledge about assisted living facilities in a particular geographic area, including space availability, resident needs assessments, sliding scale fees, and resident satisfaction). To find a geriatric care manager, see's Senior Living Directory.
  • For details about assisted living facilities in each of the 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, see A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities.

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