How to Start a Residential Assisted Living Facility in Arizona

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Assisted living homes provide supervision and assistance to elderly individuals and physically or cognitively impaired persons who cannot live alone, but do not need the constant care and supervision of licensed medical staff. Starting a residential assisted living facility in Arizona requires a thorough knowledge of the laws pertaining to assisted living services, a significant amount of startup capital and the appropriate licensing from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Familiarize yourself with the Arizona laws regarding assisted living homes by contacting the Arizona Department of Health Services, or ADHS, or visiting their website for a copy of the regulations. You can also take courses designed to prepare assisted living home administrators for certification that covers the legal operating requirements of these facilities.

Decide what type of care services your assisted living home will provide, taking into consideration Arizona regulations regarding the type of personnel you must employ to legally provide care. Arizona licenses two common levels of assisted living care: Directed care for individuals who cannot safely perform activities of daily living, or ADLs, by themselves, which requires all personnel be licensed by the state; and personal care services provided by unlicensed staff who are overseen by a licensed manager. The latter is for individuals who can perform the majority of ADLs by themselves, or with minimal assistance. Additionally, choose the capacity you will seek licensure for. The majority of assisted living facilities that provide service in a house or other residential building have 10 or fewer residents, due to space limitations. In Arizona, these are referred to as "assisted living homes" for licensing purposes, and are not subject to some of the licensing requirements of larger businesses.

Find a house or other residential building for your assisted living facility. Unless you plan to construct a new building, you must consider the size of the home and what modifications may be necessary to make it compliant with Arizona assisted living facility laws. For example, you must have at least one bathroom for every eight residents of the home, each private bedroom must have 80 square feet of space and each shared bedroom must have 60 square feet of space per resident.

Hire an architectural or construction professional to create scaled drawings of your assisted living home, as well as develop plans for any needed modifications. Contact your local county and/or city zoning authority to obtain any required construction permits, and to ensure you can legally operate an assisted living home in the residential area you've chosen.

Submit an architectural review application to the ADHS, along with copies of your local zoning or building permits and the appropriate review fees. Additionally, request a sealed copy of your scaled drawings and plans be sent directly from the architect to the ADHS. The architectural review process generally takes about 45, days and your facility and/or building plans must be approved by ADHS prior to applying for an assisted living facility license.

Register a trade name, or DBA, with the Arizona secretary of state's office. In addition, apply for a federal Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS, and use this number to register with the Arizona Department of Revenue for employer withholding, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation accounts. Arizona does not have a general state business license, so contact your local city government to determine whether a business license is required. You may also need to pay city business taxes in some Arizona cities.

Begin hiring staff pursuant to the type of care you wish to provide. All assisted living services in Arizona must have a licensed administrator and a licensed manager on-site at all hours. It is the responsibility of the assisted living homeowners and administrators to verify the Arizona state licensure, education and/or other credentials of all employees. Unlicensed staff must be able to provide documentation or other reasonable proof of their ability to properly provide for the needs of the assisted living home residents.

Complete and submit a health care institution license application to the ADHS. Include with your application the appropriate licensing fees, copies of all your local zoning and business permits, a description of the services your assisted living will provide, a staff roster and credentials of the administrator, a floor plan and a letter of intent that verifies the date your assisted living home will be ready for inspection.

Prepare for inspection by the ADHS. Within 30 days, you will receive notification of the status of your application. If approved, you will be issued a license to operate an assisted living home at your chosen location. If denied, you will be provided with the reason and given information about correcting deficiencies or filing an appeal.

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