PA Senior Care Providers Delaying the Inevitable: ALF Licensing

In the past couple of years, Pennsylvania has worked to develop a middle ground between personal care homes and nursing homes, with the expectation that many personal care homes would become licensed for “long-term care assisting living.” However, a surprisingly small number of facilities have actually done so, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Then-Governor Ed Rendell’s administration oversaw the assisted living regulations that needed to be met in order for care homes to bill themselves as “assisted living,” and predicted that there would be at least 150 centers licensed by now, the article reports. Instead, statewide, there are 10.

The regulations took effect in January 2011, nearly a year after the Department of Public Welfare published final regulations on Assisted Living Residences in May 2010, but very few of the state’s 1,300 personal care homes have made the necessary changes to be considered assisted living.


In addition to the 10 already-licensed facilities, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says there are another 26 in the pipeline awaiting licensing approval.

Some personal care providers say there hasn’t been enough of a competitive advantage to propel them into getting licensing, which allows them to provide certain services and assistance that would otherwise be prohibited.

Incentive was further reduced when the state “backed off of a plan to infuse the field with funding that would cover care of low- to moderate-income residents,” says the article.


Besides having steeper licensing fees, facilities transitioning to assisted living would also have to do more extensive staff training and in many cases would be required to renovate rooms to allow more living space and include private bathrooms and kitchen appliance, the Post-Gazette reports.

“If [the state is] serious about wanting to keep these people out of nursing homes, which we agree with as a goal … they’re going to have to get serious about how they’re going to fund these services,” Ron Barth, president of LeadingAge PA, is quoted as saying.

The Long-term living director projects there will be 200 licensed assisted living facilities “in the next several years,” and while the numbers are currently low, this is a realistic prediction, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).

“People are just waiting to see a little bit on how it shakes out, how the department is going to implement the new assisted living program; they’re just trying to wait and see,” Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of public policy at ALFA, told SHN.  “At some point, it’s inevitable that they will get licensed as assisted living.”

Read the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace