Seven Reasons to Open Your Own Adult Care Home (and three reasons not to)

So, you’re thinking of opening your own adult care home for seniors and persons with disabilities? Congratulations! This is an exciting decision. Maybe you’ve worked as a caregiver for several years in an adult care home, assisted living facility, nursing facility, or as an in-home caregiver.

You’ve now decided you’d like to take the next step and become an adult care home provider with your name listed on the license. You most likely feel passionate about caring for elderly and disabled individuals. This is great; however, this is not a decision to be made lightly. Owning your own adult care home business and being a caregiver for another provider are two very different experiences with their own unique challenges.

Now is the critical time to reflect on your motivation and passion for becoming an adult care home provider, while also considering the realities of this role. Now is the time for a frank discussion. I’d like to talk about seven reasons to open your own adult care home, and three reasons to consider another career path.

Let’s start with the reasons not to open your own adult care home. 

  1. ​All you see are dollar signs. Sure, you’re hoping to make money, as this is a business; however, people who go into this field mainly for the money quickly burn out, or realize the money isn’t worth it. When starting out, you might go months without income while you’re working through the licensing process. Sure, private pay residents pay a pretty penny, but you also have to factor in the cost of your lease or mortgage, insurance, food for a large household, and the cost to hire and keep good caregivers. If all goes well, you’ll make a decent living, but there are definitely easier ways to make money.
  2. This will be your side business. The state requires you, as the licensee, to be involved in the business. Frankly speaking, everything falls on your shoulders. You shouldn’t expect to simply hire a resident manager and take a hands-off approach to your adult foster home business. 
  3. You take issue with government regulation. This field is highly regulated. Let me say that again. This field is highly regulated. Did I mention this is a highly-regulated field? To put this into perspective, the Oregon Adult Foster Home Administrative Rules are over 150 pages long. Not only do you have state regulations, but there are both federal and local regulations you must follow as a small business and an adult care home. To top things off, state licensors will show up to your home unannounced, and you might have periodic visits from APS and a long-term care ombudsman.

Okay, I admit that was a bit intense, but in my time working in adult care homes in both a protective services and regulatory capacity, I’ve seen it all. My purpose is not to scare you away from this business, but to make sure you’re going into the business with your eyes open and for the right reasons.

Now let me give you the reasons you should consider opening your own adult care home business.

  1. You are in a good place, financially. You have enough to buy or lease a home and make payments for several months without any income, plus you have the required two months worth of reserves.
  2. You have the patience of a saint. Both your residents and their families will test your patience, at one point, or another. You just see this as part of doing what you love.
  3. You’re ready to take complete responsibility. You’re willing to be responsible for anything that happens in the home, even if it was not your fault. As a licensee, you will be responsible for what your caregivers do. Hire good caregivers, treat them well, and pay them well.
  4. You believe complete privacy as overrated. You’re okay with living where you work, and working where you live. Frankly, you’re excited about living in a multi-generational household. You enjoy talking with older individuals and hearing about their amazing life stories, and you’re looking forward to having several more grandparents.
  5. You’re an organizational wizard. The Oregon Adult Foster Home Administrative Rules require you to document practically everything. Are you organized enough to keep resident records, facility records, personnel records, and business/financial records straight, in addition to meeting the care needs of residents?
  6. This is your passion and your calling. You know this is what you’re meant to do. Working with older and/or disabled individuals brings you immense joy and fulfillment. You feel called to do this work, and you’re committed to helping seniors live in a safe, home-like environment where you help them remain as independent and engaged as possible. You want to provide top-notch care.
  7. You’re ready to commit yourself 100% to the business, and everything that entails.

Now is the perfect opportunity to really reflect on your skills, passions, interests, personality, and lifestyle before you make the leap into becoming an adult care home provider. It can be a challenging, yet highly rewarding career, especially if you go into the business for the right reasons. As the old adage goes, choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life.