Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


Military and Veterans Discount


Free AARP E-Books

Protecting Yourself Online for Dummies

Here's the mini guide you need to steer through the hazards with confidence.

Learn More


AARP Games - Play Now!


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

News & Politics Forums

Share your opinions on news and current events that matter most to you.

Join the discussion »

AARP Auto Buying Program




Protections for Residents of Elder Care Facilities

Laws create restrictions for referral firms

Les Ostermeier, consultation, Oregon has adopted tighter regulations of the adult family home and referral industries.

Les Ostermeier, co-owner of an adult home referral agency, meets with prospective clients. Oregon has adopted tighter regulations of the adult family home and referral industries. — Photo by Geo Rittenmyer

Two new laws governing the fast-growing adult family home industry will offer Washington residents protection against shady practices and outright abuse.

See also: Caregiving Resource Center.

  • A law that took effect Aug. 24 will require more frequent inspections by the state Department of Social and Health Services and improved safety standards in Washington's nearly 3,000 adult family homes.

Adult family homes are small residential facilities that offer care for up to six older or disabled adults. Nursing homes are heavily regulated, but the rules for adult family homes are less clear.

The law requires that caregivers speak and read English so they can read patients' care plans, speak with doctors and talk to 911 operators when necessary. It also increases financial penalties for violators of the provisions.

Starting Jan. 1 a new law will require elder care referral agencies to disclose fees and commissions; disclose when they conducted their most recent on-site screening of each facility; conduct criminal background checks of employees; and use standardized intake forms that track seniors' medical histories.

Exposé prompted action

Ingrid McDonald, AARP Washington advocacy director, credited a 2010 Seattle Times series, "Seniors for Sale," for exposing shady practices in the industry. Some referral companies charged finders' fees to older people while referring them to substandard facilities, the Times found.

McDonald said such revelations were "critical because they created an awareness among lawmakers" and prompted them to take action.

Most adult family homes and assisted living facilities pay commissions to referral agencies that send them new patients. But some agencies don't screen the facilities, and in scores of cases since 2008 they referred older clients to facilities with a history of negligence and even abuse, the newspaper series found.

Next: New laws will make industry more transparent >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points