Assisted Living Regulations in Florida

On the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, safety and security remains a top priority for older adults, caregivers and providers. But how can we make sure that assisted living facilities act in the best interests of their residents? In Florida, The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regulates long-term care facilities to ensure a standard level of care.

If you are evaluating assisted living communities for your loved one, a greater understanding of the regulations, and how providers are scored against them, can empower you to make the right decision for your loved one.

Assisted Living Regulations Worth Knowing

Florida’s Assisted Living Regulations are detailed in Rule Chapter 58A-5 of The Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). Regulated topics include rules related to licensing, contracts, resident care, staff, and emergency management, among many other aspects. If you are considering a move to assisted living, there are six rules you should know about:

1. Assisted Living Resident Care Standards

The quality of care and support your loved one receives in assisted living is perhaps the single most important piece of regulation. According to Rule 59A-36.007 F.A.C., Florida expects assisted living facilities to provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), but also encourage residents to participate and engage in regular social, educational and recreational activities. That’s because maintaining independence as we age is associated with greater health and well-being. In fact, productive engagement such as the kind found in assisted living communities has been linked to health, wellness and longevity.

2. Assisted Living Staffing and Training Standards

According to Rule 59A-36.011 F.A.C., assisted living staff who provide direct care to residents must be able to demonstrate competence, including techniques for infection control and sanitation procedures, before providing care to residents.

Some providers are happy to simply meet the minimum training requirements for assisted living while others go above and beyond state requirements to ensure the highest level of care and outcomes for their residents. For example, Serenades Memory Care by Sonata exceeds all dementia care training standards in Florida to benefit staff–and the residents they care for–with advanced knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Assisted Living Food Service Standards

Nutritional guidelines must be met by assisted living facilities, including special therapeutic diets ordered by a physician, according to Rule 58A-5.020 F.A.C. The nutritional standard used to evaluate meals must meet the recommended dietary allowances established by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board’s National Research Council.

Access to nutritional food is imperative for older adults, particularly those at risk for weight loss caused by dementia. Florida requires assisted living communities to offer meals and snacks throughout the day. To ensure food is always available, a three-day supply of non-perishable food must be on hand at all times—a vital safeguard in hurricane-prone Florida.

4. Assisted Living Physical Plant Standards

On the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, resident safety and security remains a top priority for providers. Florida state laws require assisted living facilities to provide a clean and safe living environment. This includes compliance with building codes and maintaining mechanical, structural and electrical systems.

In Rule 58A-5.023 F.A.C., the “physical plant” extends to individual apartments, with rules regulating mattresses, furniture, seating, lighting and even laundry services. In Florida, the use of power generators ensure assisted living residents have access to air conditioning at all times.

5. Assisted Living Resident Contracts

When it comes to the cost of assisted living, there should be no surprises after you’ve moved in. In accordance with Rule 58A-5.025, F.A.C., assisted living contracts must specify a list of services; supplies and accommodations that will be provided; the daily, weekly, or monthly rate; a list of any additional services and charges that are not included in the rates; and a separate fee schedule attached to the contract.

Contracts should include the facility’s policies and procedures related to admissions, administration of medications, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, and much more.

Sonata Senior Living recommends reviewing your resident contract closely before moving to assisted living and requesting a copy of the executed contract. Your rights, duties and obligations as a resident should also be detailed in the contract.

6. Florida Assisted Living License Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Florida must be licensed by The Agency for Health Care Administration, Bureau of Health Facility Regulation. In addition to a standard license, there are essentially three additional types of specialty licenses that permit providers to provide personal care and limited nursing services.

In order to maintain a license, assisted living facilities in Florida must pass inspections conducted by the AHCA and provide a copy of an annual fire safety and sanitation inspection.

Assisted Living Inspections

Compliance with Florida Statutes and The Florida Administrative Code is managed through ongoing inspections of assisted living facilities.

Inspection reports provide important information about the regulatory history of a health care provider and are made available to the public on

According to the AHCA, inspections consist of a review of clinical records, policies and procedures, and staffing reports as well as interviews with residents, family members, staff, visitors and/or volunteers.

If a violation of a regulation is found during an inspection, it is cited as a deficiency and documented in both federal and state forms. These forms detail each deficiency as well as the steps the provider will take to correct them.

Most importantly, if inspections are unfavorable, a facility’s license may be revoked, forcing closure.

For more information about inspections, the AHCA publishes these Frequency Asked Questions and Answers online.

Moving To Assisted Living

Sonata Senior Living encourages consumers to research the rules and regulations related to assisted living as well as the regulatory history of communities in your area. In addition to deficiency-free ratings, Sonata Senior Living communities strive to exceed all regulatory standards to provide the highest levels of care in Florida assisted living and memory care communities.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living, contact us today→ or schedule a visit →

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