Assisted Living in Iowa
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Families looking for assisted living in Iowa (IA) have a wide array of communities to choose from, since estimated that there are more than 30,000 assisted living communities serving seniors across the U.S., and over 264 statewide. The state is also home to a rapidly growing number of senior citizens, with adults over 65 making up an estimated 17 percent of the population. A resident in an assisted living community in Iowa will pay $3,847 per month on average.
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What You Should Know About Assisted Living in Iowa
In Iowa, assisted living facilities are officially known as assisted living programs. These facilities house three or more seniors who need assistance with up to three activities of daily living.
Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Iowa
Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides health coverage for low-income seniors. Medicaid pays for nursing home care, but for those who prefer to live in an assisted living facility, Medicaid sometimes pays for assisted living if the care can be acquired at a lower cost than in a nursing home. This is done through the Medicaid 1915 (c) Elderly Waiver program.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for Iowa Medicaid, an individual must be at least 65 years old and both a resident of Iowa and a citizen of the United States. Additionally, they must be determined by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise to need nursing or skilled nursing level of care. There are also income and asset limits that must be met.
How to Apply
This Medicaid waiver is available in all counties in Iowa. It is not an entitlement program, meaning that there are only a certain number of slots available. If all of the slots are filled, then qualified applicants are placed on a waiting list. To apply for Medicaid, a senior should contact their county’s Iowa Department of Human Services office.
Supplemental Security Income – Category G is a cash benefit that may be paid to low-income seniors who meet eligibility guidelines. Along with the benefit paid out by the federal government, Iowa also supplements the cost of AL to further assist seniors. This cash benefit can be used to help cover the cost of assisted living, as well as other basic needs like food and clothing.
Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for the program, an individual must be a citizen of the United States, at least 65 years old and meet strict income and asset guidelines.
How to Apply
To apply for SSI-G, a senior should visit their local Social Security office in person. A list of SSI offices in Iowa can be found here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all Iowa assisted living facilities are permitted to accept payment from these programs. Before applying for residence, a senior who intends to use financial assistance to cover the cost of their care should confirm that the community they choose is authorized to accept payment from these programs.
More Ways to Finance Assisted Living
While many families use their own funds or personal assets to pay for assisted living, there are plenty of additional options to cover these costs. Visit our 9 Ways to Pay for Assisted Living page for more information.
Free Assisted Living Resources in Iowa
Iowa Area Agencies on Aging
Under the Older Americans Act, the Iowa Department on Aging has appointed six Area Agencies on Aging. These agencies provide seniors and their families with information on available services, provide referrals and coordinate support services like home-delivered meals and transportation services.
5835 Grand Avenue, Suite 106, Des Moines, IA 50312
300 West Broadway, Suite 240, Council Bluffs, IA 51503
2301 Pierce St., Sioux City, IA 51104
109 N. Elm St., Creston, IA 50801
22 N. Georgia, Suite 216, Mason City, IA 50401
6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
509 Jefferson St., Burlington, IA 52601
935 E. 53rd St., Davenport, IA 52807
623 Pennsylvania Ave., Ottumwa, IA 52501
808 River Street, Decorah, IA 52101
The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs has a staff of accredited benefits specialists for both state and federal VA benefits. They can advise senior veterans and their families of what VA benefits they may be entitled to receive, including pension, disability compensation and help with paying for assisted living.
A benefits specialist can be reached by calling the IDVA office at 515-252-4698 or 800-838-4692.
Social Security offices are operated by the federal government and are where seniors can find out what benefits they are eligible for and how those benefits can be used. Here, seniors can also apply for programs like Medicare and SSI-G.
2615 University Blvd, Ames, IA 50010
1-866-899-1928 or TTY: 1-515-292-3075
3920 Division St, Burlington, IA 52601
1-800-772-1213 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
818 Bella Vista Dr, Carroll, IA 51401
1-866-572-8381 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
3165 Williams Blvd Sw, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
1-866-495-0088 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
1100 6th Street, Coralville, IA 52241
1-866-964-2039 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
20 Arena Way Ste 1, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
1-866-331-9094 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
906 E Taylor St, Creston, IA 50801
1-866-613-2827 or TTY: 1-641-782-8072
4319 N Brady Street, Davenport, IA 52806
1-855-420-8556 or TTY: 1-563-326-4683
455 Sw 5th St Ste F, Des Moines, IA 50309
1-800-772-1213 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
1635 Associates Dr, Dubuque, IA 52002
1-877-405-3650 or TTY: 1-563-584-0867
2315 2nd Ave North, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
1-866-839-6193 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
2502 South 2nd Street, Marshalltown, IA 50158
1-877-819-2595 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
625 Village Grn Dr Sw, Mason City, IA 50401
1-866-365-6708 or TTY: 1-641-424-0561
2429 Northgate St, Ottumwa, IA 52501
1-866-964-7394 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
3555 Southern Hills Dr, Sioux City, IA 51106
1-866-338-2859 or TTY: 1-712-274-8986
1610 12th Ave Sw, Spencer, IA 51301
1-866-273-6050 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
3121 Greyhound Dr, Waterloo, IA 50701
1-888-456-9554 or TTY: 1-800-325-0778
The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent entity within the Iowa Department on Aging that works to protect the safety and interests of seniors who live in long-term care facilities, including assisted living. The ombudsman resolves complaints made by or on behalf of seniors who reside in an assisted living facility and advocates on behalf of seniors for quality care.
Long-Term Ombudsman serve according to your county of residence and phone numbers and emails are available on the Iowa Department of Aging website.
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Iowa
Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements
Assisted living facilities in Iowa are required to assess a resident’s physical, cognitive and health status at regular intervals or when any change in condition becomes apparent. If a resident requires personal care or special health services, a multidisciplinary team must be involved in creating the resident’s service plan.
In some cases, a managed risk agreement must be negotiated between the facility and the resident. This is a legal agreement between the facility and a resident or their power of attorney which states that the resident or responsible person shares responsibility with the facility to identify changes in care needs.
Assisted Living Admission Requirements
Assisted living facilities in Iowa are not permitted to admit or continue to house residents who need total assistance with four or more activities of daily living for more than 21 days. Additionally, assisted living facilities cannot accommodate residents who are bedbound; would require two-person assistance to stand, transfer or evacuate the facility; have an uncontrolled mental disorder; are addicted to a substance; have chronic unmanageable incontinence; require skilled nursing care for more than 21 days or otherwise meet the program’s discharge criteria.
In some cases, if a resident needs skilled nursing care for more than 21 days, the facility may request an exception to the rule from the Department of Inspections and Appeals. An exception may be granted if the resident makes an informed decision to stay in the facility and the facility has the staffing to meet the resident’s needs without compromising the care and safety of other residents.
Assisted Living Scope of Care
Assisted living facilities in Iowa must provide health-related services and assistance with the activities of daily living. They must also provide around-the-clock access to a personal emergency response system.
Assisted living facilities are required to provide at least one hot meal a day. The meals can be provided by the facilities themselves, or they may make arrangements with other community providers for meal availability. All meals must comply with the guidelines published by the National Academy of Science’s Food and Nutrition Board. If the facility provides therapeutic diets, then the diet must be prescribed by a health care provider, and a licensed dietician must be available to write and approve the resident’s menu and review how the food is prepared and served.
Assisted Living Medicaid Policy
Services provided by assisted living facilities in Iowa are covered by the Medicaid 1915 (c) Elderly Waiver program, which is administered by the Department of Health and Social Services.
Assisted Living Facility Requirements
Iowa does not require that assisted living facilities have apartment-style units. Resident rooms must be either single- or double-occupancy and have a private bathroom outfitted with a sink, a toilet and a tub or shower. Units are not required to have kitchens.
Medication Management Regulations
Residents who can self-administer their medications are permitted to do so, and the facility's staff is able to provide medication assistance as needed.
Nurses can delegate medication administration services to unlicensed staff members. In Iowa, administration includes reminding or prompting the resident to take their medication, opening the container with the resident’s verbal permission, reading the instructions and information on the label and transferring the medication from its original container to an appropriate dispensing container.
If a facility administers medication or provides health-related care, then an RN must be available to monitor each resident who receives medication administered by the facility to ensure that the medication is taken as directed and that there are no adverse reactions. Monitoring should occur on a quarterly basis or after a resident experiences a significant change in their health or condition.
Assisted living facilities in Iowa are required to hire a program manager who oversees the facility’s day-to-day operations and staffing. If the facility administers medication, an RN is required to delegate medication administration, monitor how medications are stored, ensure that physician orders are up-to-date and monitor residents’ health. Personnel is required to provide direct care for residents.
While Iowa has no minimum staffing ratios, the expectation is that a facility has enough personnel on hand to ensure that residents’ needs are met at all times.
Staff Training Requirements
All program managers that are hired after January 1, 2010, as well as delegating nurses, are required to complete and assisted living management or nursing course within six months of their hire date. All personnel must receive training on the facility’s fire safety and emergency procedures.
Background Checks for ALR Staff in Iowa
Before hiring a prospective employee, the manager must request a criminal history check from the Department of Public Safety and a dependent adult abuse record from the Department of Human Services. If the applicant has been convicted of a crime, their eligibility for hire is left to the discretion of the DHS.
Requirements for Reporting Abuse
All staff members of assisted living facilities in Iowa are mandated reporters, regardless of whether they work directly with residents. This means that if a nurse or personnel members sees or suspects abuse, neglect, mistreatment or exploitation, they are required to report it. Complaints can be made to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division or to the Iowa Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Assisted Living Facilities in Iowa
Top-Rated Caring Stars Winners in Iowa
Caring.com’s Caring Stars award program recognizes the best assisted living facilities across the U.S. based on reviews from family caregivers and older adults. This award is meant to help older adults and their loved ones find the best assisted living or in-home care option in their area. The list below shows up to 10 listings that have won the most Caring Stars annual awards in their state, sorted by their current overall average rating. For a complete list of Caring Stars winners for each year, please visit our Caring Stars info center.
Clive, IA $$
Cedar Rapids, IA $$$
Davenport, IA $$
River Bend Assisted Living
Cascade, IA Cost Levels
Western Home Communities
Cedar Falls, IA Cost Levels
Senior Star at Elmore Place
Davenport, IA $$$
Bickford of Urbandale
Urbandale, IA Cost Levels
The Villages at Marion
Marion, IA $$
Whispering Creek Senior Living
Sioux City, IA Cost Levels