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What is a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE)?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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A Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) is a facility which offers supportive care to elderly individuals while allowing them a reasonable degree of freedom. These facilities are sometimes known as assisted living or supportive care facilities, stressing the idea that they are designed for people who need a little bit of help with daily life. RCFEs usually do not offer skilled nursing care such as that needed for severely disabled elderly people, and they also lack facilities for totally independent living.

In a typical RCFE, residents are housed in suites or small apartments which have, at a minimum, a bedroom and a bathroom. Some facilities offer a range of rooms, from shared rooms to private suites with multiple rooms designed for entertaining. Residents have access to meals which are offered on a regular basis in a dining room or by delivery, and the facility also provides enrichment opportunities such as a game room, lounge, and so forth so that the residents can socialize and interact with each other.

Staff members in an RCFE may be certified nurses, or simply assistants, depending on the facility and the level of care required. These facilities are equipped to assist elderly people who are in fair to good health, and they generally cannot cope with Alzheimer's patients or patients who need serious supportive care, such as patients who require numerous medical interventions to survive, or bedridden patients.

Depending on the nation, an RCFE may be accredited by an agency which inspects assisted living facilities, or it may not be. It's a good idea to seek out accredited facilities when looking for elder care, and to personally inspect an assisted living facility before signing a contract. If possible, future residents should be allowed to visit for a few days, and to sample meals and interact with other residents freely.

When looking for an RCFE for a parent or a loved one, it's a good idea to talk to the staff, and to observe interactions between staff and residents. People should appear generally happy, relaxed, and healthy, and there should be no signs of fear or distress on the part of the residents. Some people also enjoy living in facilities with people who have a similar religious faith or set of interests. For example, a devout Jewish woman might prefer to live in a Jewish Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, so that she can be assured of Kosher food, interactions with fellow Jewish people, observation of Jewish holidays, and access to Jewish religious services and a rabbi.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On Apr 27, 2011

@Moldova - I had my dad in a senior home like that and it was really nice. It was like he had an apartment. We took him to an assisted living home because he was starting to forget things and started to develop dementia.

The center was relatively inexpensive but you did have to qualify based on your income. It was less than six hundred dollars a month and that included all of his meals and everything. These homes receive subsidies from the federal government which is why they are so cheap.

It is similar to a section 8 program but this program focuses strictly on assisted living facilities. There are some assisted living facilities that also offer nursing home care but that is extra and some will take patients that have Alzheimer’s. You have to ask because not all of these centers have this capability.

By Moldova — On Apr 25, 2011

I wanted to say that my friend’s father was in an assisted living home for the elderly. She said that is was a really nice building that had a dining room, a game room, and a theater where they offered movies from time to time.

She told me that they also offered a whole entertainment calendar and would offer bingo games and arts and crafts activities every day. The residents were able to eat in the dining room or in their rooms and they had someone clean up their room and check up on them daily.

This assisted living facility allowed the patients to sign out and leave the facility.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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