What Is an RCFE License and Why Should I Care?

Rick Magliano

RCFE stands for Residential Care Facility for the Elderly. RCFE is a special certification in the State of California. These facilities are also called board and care facilities. While other states have followed suit in developing similar licenses and certifications, California’s certification is somewhat unique. Having a certification in another state will not suffice in CA, and CA certifications in this category are not always recognized by other states.

What makes a Residential Care Facility for the elderly different than a typical nursing home? Well, nursing homes have nurses on staff and can medicate and provide some medical care, whereas residential care facilities or board and care facilities do not. RCFEs help with activities of daily living (ADLs). Things like bathing, grooming, dressing, and food. They may also help with some medical services under special care plans and may advise the elderly when to take medications, but do not administer them.

Why is all this important? Simple. Because there have been unfortunate cases of elder abuse, poorly maintained board and care facilities, theft, fraud, and neglect resulting in deaths in the past. To prevent this from happening the State of California has taken action after advocacy groups lobbied the California Legislature in Sacramento to do something about it.

Their remedy was to make sure all the RCFEs were registered, certified and licensed, and to make sure those in charge of the facilities were certified along with those working there. Things have changed drastically since. Noncompliant board and care facilities are warned and if not brought into compliance – closed for good, literally for the good! The good of the elderly as well as the families and insurance companies paying the costs.

Is it hard to stay in compliance? Not really once you know the rules, hire the right people, and have all the certifications. If the facility is not kept up to par with the required standards for paperwork, cleanliness, or if there are complaints resulting in citations or notifications the California regulators can be quite severe in their adherence to the rules and laws set forth.

This is why everyone working there needs to be trained properly and educated on the rules and laws. They must also get RCFE Certification. All of this is required to operate a board and care facility or RCFE. This is being done to ensure the safety, quality of life, and well-being of our elderly seniors and to protect the families who are footing the bill, the consumers.

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