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What is an RCFE?

Most people know the general moniker of “assisted living” and some even know of the smaller variation “board and care” or simply, “care home.” But most people don’t know and many ask, what is an RCFE? California Department of Social Service uses the general title of Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) as a licensing category under its Community Care division.

Who falls under the RCFE banner? Lots of folks. The facility titles that fall under the California umbrella of RCFE are: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Residential Assisted Living, Board and Care and simply Care Homes. All of these are long term care providers that fall under the California’s banner of RCFE. All of these to a varying degrees try to accomplish the same goal.

The biggest obvious difference between them is, size. Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities are usually commercial buildings. Residential Assisted Living or Board and Care homes are usually just that, small residential homes surrounded by other residential homes. Both types of facility need to comply with local fire code. Both small and large facilities are visited by the same state inspection agents (LPAs – Licensing Program Analysts) and are regulated by the same code (Title 22).

What binds these different providers together? They are all providing long-term care for the elderly in a non-medical model. They do not have staff who are medical professionals supervised by a physician. Because RCFEs are licensed by the department of Social Services, they are essentially a social model. They meet the social, physical and mental needs of their residents, but cannot venture into providing “licensed medical care.” That’s a technical, licensing and size perspective about RCFEs.

Now how about from the residents and their families stand point? Now that you know what an RCFE is, it’s fair to ask; what is the difference between the big and small model, and is one better suited for my parent? I’m so glad you asked, that will be the topic of our next couple posts.