Known as the state of Utah's high elevation capital, Salt Lake City is bordered by the famous, boy of waters of the Great Salt Lake. It's also surrounded by the snow-capped peaks that called though Wasatch Range home, making it a beautiful area for those who enjoy one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences.
Along with a variety of unique natural sites and some of the nation's most breathtaking scenery, Salt Lake City is home to a wide variety of points of interest, and fun things to do. Additionally, the city is home to dozens of senior living communities, including assisted living facilities that provide personal care services to those who need assistance with their activities of daily living.
This guide will discuss the assisted living regulations in place for communities in Salt Lake City, detailing the personal care services, apartment amenities, and resources they must provide to maintain their license. By understanding the state's regulations for assisted living communities, families can get a better idea of what to expect before they move into a long-term care residence in Utah.
Salt Lake City Assisted Living
In Utah, all assisted living facilities are governed by the Department of Health, Facility Licensing, and Certification. The state recognizes two types of assisted living facilities and categorizes them depending on the level of care they provide. The regulations established by the state define assisted living communities as a place where older adults and disabled individuals receive 24-hour personal care, individualized to their personal health conditions.
The two types of assisted living communities in Salt Lake City are defined by the services they provide and their residents’ overall care needs:
Type 1 assisted living facilities are residential care communities that provide assistance with each resident's activities of daily living, and social care for at least two or more residents who are ambulatory and who are able to sufficiently evacuate the building without help from another person.
Type 2 assisted living facilities provide additional services, including supportive personal and health care, which should be available 24 hours a day. Their services are specialized for residents who are physically disabled, who are cognitive enough to direct their own care. They may also provide care for cognitively or physically impaired individuals who are unable to evacuate the facility without the assistance of another person.
There are no occupancy limitations for assisted living communities in Salt Lake City, except that those with more than 17 individual residents are classified as large facilities, those with between 6 and 16 residents are classified as small communities, and those with between 2 and 5 residents are defined as a limited capacity community. Depending on a community’s size classification, they must comply with the applicable building codes.
Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Long-Term Care in Salt Lake City
For some families, assisted living is the right choice to provide long-term care. For others, different types of senior living facilities may be appropriate to meet their level of need.
For example, many people choose community-based care for the social interaction, maintenance-free lifestyle, and resort-style amenities they provide. Many look forward to the interactions they'll have once they move into an assisted living community, and are excited for the new opportunities they didn't have when they lived in a private residence.
However, a person doesn't need to have physical or cognitive limitations to enjoy the benefits of community-based care. Independent living communities offer a bridge between living at home and assisted living, where residents can enjoy the positives of community-based care, even if they don't need ongoing help with their activities of daily living.
At assisted living communities, residents get help with their activities of daily living regularly. Independent living communities offer assistance when residents request it, but do not offer the same level of service planning as type 1 or type 2 Assisted Living. If a person is largely self-sufficient and doesn't need much help from another person to transition through their day, independent living may be a viable alternative for long-term care.
Unlike assisted living or independent living communities, nursing homes provide an entirely different level of care that is more appropriate for those with chronic illnesses or injuries. While assisted living and independent living focus on creating a chore free, well-rounded experience for their residents, nursing homes offer an advanced level of skilled nursing care residents won't find at a residential care community.
In some cases, the advanced skilled nursing care available at a nursing home is required for a person's well-being, and assisted living or independent living may not be a suitable alternative. It's important for individuals to discuss their needs with perspective communities and their health care professionals to determine which type of long-term care is appropriate for them.
Assisted Living Services and Amenities in Salt Lake City
To receive and maintain an assisted living license in Salt Lake City, a residence must provide certain standard services and amenities according to the state's regulations.
In Utah, an assisted living facility must provide personal care according to each resident's individual daily needs. Personal care services typically include medication administration and assistance with activities of daily living, like eating, bathing, dressing, and maintaining personal hygiene. Communities may not admit or retain a resident if their personal care services are not adequate enough to meet the individual's level of care.
Assisted living communities are not permitted to house residents who require inpatient hospital care or long-term nursing care, making them a poor alternative to nursing homes for some individuals. However, residents may stay at the community of their choice if they develop certain health conditions during their stay and they arranged third-party care to meet their needs.
Communities must provide medication administration for each resident, according to their individual assessment which determines the type and level of assistance they need. Some residents may self administer medications, while others may need staff assistance.
Communities must be capable of serving three meals per day for each resident, and also must provide snacks. If residents have therapeutic diets, as recommended by their physician, their community must modify and customize their meals accordingly to make sure their needs are met.
Assisted Living Apartments in Salt Lake City
Both Type 1 and Type 2 assisted living communities must provide residents with their own individual, separate living unit. No more than two people may share one unit, and they may only do so when both residents make a written request to live together. Communities are not permitted to assign roommates without each tenant’s consent prior to doing so.
Assisted Living units in Utah are defined as apartments with a living and a sleeping space, a private bathroom, and an optional kitchen space. Type 1 assisted living facilities may provide one toilet and one sink in a bathroom in the common area of each floor, provided they offer one for every 6 residents. This is only required when private bathrooms are not present within individual apartments. Type 2 assisted living facilities are subject to similar regulations, which require a toilet and a sink for every for residents and a bathtub or shower for every 10 on each floor.
Showers must accommodate wheelchairs, and they must allow enough space for staff to assist the resident and taking a shower if need be. When resident living units offer private bathrooms where staff are not available to assist, then each floor of the community must offer a bathroom that is equipped with a bathtub or shower, toilet, and sink that provides wheelchair access and enough room for staff assistance.
If a person is participating in one of the state's Medicaid waiver programs to pay for long-term care, they must live at an assisted living community that offers apartment-style units.
Things to do in Salt Lake City
At the largest city in Utah, there are nearly limitless options for fun and entertainment in Salt Lake City. One of the most popular destinations in the area is the Red Butte Garden, home to a wide variety of breathtaking walking trails, unique workshops, and one of a kind live events.
The Garden’s Outdoor Concert Series is popular among Salt Lake City residents, attracting thousands of visitors each year. On sunny days, the park is perfect for a stroll through nature and is open year-round to guests.
The Hogle Zoo is another popular destination, spanning 42 acres in the heart of Salt Lake City. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, representing many different ecosystems. with more than 800 individual animals on site, spanning nearly 250 unique species, the zoo is a must-see destination for the whole family.
Looking for an indoor opportunity? The Natural History Museum of Utah offers a full day of excitement, with 10 one-of-a-kind galleries that explore Utah's native cultures and Geological science. While the museum offers exhibits of many different natural history subjects, it emphasizes Utah's history and key events that happened in the Intermountain West.
Paying for Assisted Living in Salt Lake City
As families approach retirement, paying for long-term care can feel challenging. Fortunately, there are a variety of opportunities available to help families offset the cost of assisted living, making it a financially viable option for retirement living.
Long-term care insurance is one of the most popular ways to pay for assisted living, especially for those who know they want to move into a care community long before they retire. By purchasing a long-term care insurance plan before a person approaches retirement age, an individual can save significant amounts of money on their monthly cost of care.
Unfortunately, long-term care insurance is most effective when a person buys it with time between the purchase, and their retirement. The longer a person has before they reach retirement age, the less they can expect to pay in long-term care insurance monthly premiums. As a person gets closer to retirement, the monthly premiums may increase, so it's important to plan ahead.
If a family or individual needs help paying for long-term care, and long-term care insurance isn't an option, they may qualify for one of the state’s helpful assistance programs. While Medicare will not pay for a person's assisted living stay, Medicaid offers a handful of programs that are designed to help financially needy families pay for residential care.
Formerly known as the home and community-based waiver, the program is sponsored by Utah's Medicaid office, and offers financial assistance to qualifying individuals who need long-term care. Those who qualify can get substantial help paying for assisted living, greatly offsetting the cost of care.
To be eligible for the home and community-based waiver in Utah, a family or individual must meet the program's financial requirements, they must require assistance from another person for their activities of daily living, and they must be a citizen of the state. The waiver will only cover services that a recipient received within the last 90 days, so it's important that applicants are eligible for the award during the time period In which they are receiving care.
Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers an exclusive program for older adults who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Those who serve in the United States Armed Forces during a time of War and who were not dishonorably discharged may qualify for a monthly cash benefit through the VA to offset the cost of long-term care. The program, known as Aid and Attendance, is open to veterans who require the assistance of another person to complete their activities of daily living, and who are financially eligible.
To learn more about the aid and attendance program, eligibility, and applying, a family should contact their VA caseworker for more information. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers an informative web page that details more information about the aid and attendance program.