About Assisted Living in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is rich in American history - visit the Liberty Bell, Elfreth’s Alley, Independence Hall, and a National Civil War Museum with more than 24,000 artifacts, manuscripts and war focused memorabilia. Pennsylvania is also one of the few state that don’t tax retirement income, including 401(k)s, IRAs, or Social Security.

What Options are Available for Assisted Living?

In the state of Pennsylvania assisted living comes in the form of a personal care home (PCH) and an assisted living residence (ALR). Individuals living in PCHs do not require the services of a long-term care facility, but require supervision of activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

Both PCHs and ALRs must utilize smoke detectors, extinguishers, and an alarm systems that’s connected to the local fire department or a 24-hour monitoring services. Both facilities must also have evacuation plans, multiple exits on each floor that are unlocked and unobstructed, and must perform regular drills.

What are the Alzheimer’s Requirements for PCHs and ALRs in Pennsylvania?

PCHs and ALRs require a written cognitive preadmission screening for their dementia care units. The resident must also be reassessed annually. Facilities offering special care must also provide weekly gross motor activities, self-care activities, sensory and memory enhancement activities, and outdoor activities. Two hours of personal care must be provided each day.

PCH dementia care units can have no more than 2 residents in each secured bedroom. Key operated locks are not permitted, but all doors are equipped with magnetic locks that automatically open when the fire alarm system is activated.

ALR dementia care units can have doors equipped with key-locking devices to prevent immediate wandering, as long as they are approved by the state.

Senior Assisted Living Details and Costs for Cities in Pennsylvania

Listed below are some of the larger cities in Pennsylvania. Each city link provides details on senior assisted living options, independent living, senior apartments and homes, as well as Alzheimer's care facilities. Details include amenities, services offered as well as other useful information.

What Training is Required for PCH and ALR Staff?

Both PCHs and ALRs require an orientation covering general fire and smoke safety, evacuation procedures, staff duties, and emergency preparedness, prior to or on the first working day at the facility. Within the first 40 hours both facilities require direct care staff to complete orientation covering resident rights, reporting of abuse and neglect, reportable incidents, safe management, and core competency training that includes person-centered care.

Special care PCH staff must have an additional 6 hours of annual training related to dementia care and services, while ALRs must have 8 hours of initial training within the first 30 days of employment and 16 hours annually.

Is an Assessment Required Before Move-In?

Both PCHs and ALRs require assessments to ensure that the individuals needs can be met in the facility and to help develop a support plan.

What Care is Available in PCHs and ALRs?

PCHs provide assistance with ADLs, IADLs, and medications.

ALRs provide:

  • Nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Laundry services
  • Social and recreational activities.
  • Assistance with ADLs and IADLs.
  • Assistance with self-administration or administration of medication.
  • Housekeeping.
  • Transportation.
  • Financial Management.
  • 24-hour supervision.
  • Monitoring and emergency response.
  • Basic cognitive support services.
  • Provide or arrange for the provision of supplemental health care services.

Both PCHs and ALRs may provide 3rd party licensed hospice care services to its residents. ALRs or their residents may also contract licensed providers for supplemental health care services.

How is Medication Managed?

Both PCHs and ALRs will provide assistance for residents who self-administer medications, and both facilities can provide medication administration by a licensed medical professional or an employee who has completed the state medication administration course and passed the required test. An ALR resident can choose not to self-administer and request administration services.

What are the Bathroom Requirements for Personal Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences?

For PCHs, there should be 1 toilet, sink, and mirror for every 6 users, including residents, family, and staff, and at least 1 bathtub or shower for every 10. For ALRs, each living unit must have 1 complete bathroom with handrails and assist bars, bathtubs and showers must have slip-resistant surfaces. Bathroom doors in double-occupancy units must be lockable and equipped with a system to notify staff in the case of an emergency.

What are the Move-In or Move-Out Requirements?

If a resident is eligible for nursing home care, they may not be admitted into a PCH. Admission of residents with special needs is allowed if the home complies with additional staffing and physical site and fire safety requirements.

An ALR can only admit residents whose needs can be met by the facility, and they may not admit or retain residents who:

  • Depend on a ventilator.
  • Have stage III or IV decubiti and vascular ulcers that are not in the healing stage.
  • Require continuous intravenous fluids.
  • Have an infectious disease in a communicable state that requires isolation or special precautions to prevent transmission.
  • Requires physical restraints.
  • Requires continuous skilled nursing care 24 hours a day.

Both PCHs and ALRs must ensure a safe and orderly transfer or discharge, assisting the resident in finding an appropriate alternative residence that meets his or her needs.

Is Assisted Living Covered by Medicaid in the State of Pennsylvania?

Currently Medicaid does not cover PCHs or ALRs, but the Commonwealth does provide a state supplement to Supplemental Security Income for residents in PCHs. The licensing agency is exploring the possibility of a home and community-based waiver for assisted living services in the future.

Who can I contact for more information?

Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Human Services Licensing
Ronald Melusky
(717) 783-3670