Understanding the Difference Between Two Types of Group Homes

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Ruby Care Senior Living Advisors

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Ruby Care Senior Living Advisors

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Jan 07, 2024

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Texas - Dallas, Collin, SE Denton & Rockwall Counties

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Boarding Home and Residential Care Home

When it comes to finding care options for loved ones or individuals needing assistance, navigating the various types of facilities available can be overwhelming. With the baby boomer population continuing to age, more seniors will be needing to seek out options that provide companion services and higher levels of care.  One of the potential options includes group homes. Municipal regulation of Group homes  states, “While there is no single definition of “group home” under state of federal law currently, under Texas law there are at least 24 types of homes, houses, centers, and other facilities, probably more that may qualify as a group home.” Confusing, right? There are many types of group homes that provide housing, counseling, and programs for teens, drug addiction, mental and physical disabilities, and conditions. For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on two types of group homes that cater to adults and seniors needing assistance: Boarding and Residential Care Homes. Boarding homes and residential care homes are often confused, both cater to specific needs and offer distinct levels of care.  Understanding their differences is crucial in making an informed decision to individual requirements.


Boarding Home

According to the Texas Health and Safety Code Section 260.001 a boarding home is classified as:

·  Serves elderly persons 65 and up or persons with disabilities (mental, physical, intellectual, or developmental) that impairs the person’s ability to provide for one’s care or protection

·  Provides lodging to three or more persons with disabilities or elderly that are unrelated to the owner of the home

·  Provides meals, housekeeping, transportation, grocery shopping, money management, laundry services, self-administration of medication assistance

·  Does NOT provide assisted living facility (ALF) personal care services as defined in Section 247.002

·  County or municipality may require a permit to operate

·  May have coverage under certain government programs or a long-term care policy

These homes offer a smaller environment and up to 6 residents live in a home-like setting with trained staff and supervisors that often live in the home.


Residential Care Homes

Definition: A residential care home, also referred to as community, personal care home, or board and care home, is a private home that usually house 20 or fewer residents (some as few as 3 or 4) that are staffed 24/7, deliver non-medical assistance to seniors that do not need 24/7 nursing care. Services include meals, personal assistance with daily activities of living.

·  Homelike environment with private or semi-private rooms

·  Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as: bathing, dressing, and medication management

·  Social activities, meals, and basic medical assistance provided

·  Often more affordable than traditional and larger assisted living facilities

·  Caregiver to patient ratio is typically better than in standard assisted living facilities

·  Cost is private pay, long-term care insurance, or Veteran’s assistance programs

·  Supportive care services such as home health, therapy, and hospice care can be provided by a licensed third-party service provider

·  Unlicensed Residential Care Home is allowed up to 3 non-related residents (Legal & illegal)

·  Licensed homes are certified by Texas Health and Human Services for compliance at the state and federal level. 

·  A very small number of care homes accept Medicaid


The Texas Health and Safety Code Section 123.005 notes that community homes can provide a wider array of services such as: food, shelter, personal guidance, care, habilitation services and supervision services to persons with disabilities compared to boarding homes. “These disabilities can include Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia; autism; mental illness; muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis, among others.” Section 123.002


Residential Care Homes can be Licensed as a Type A or B Assisted Living Facility (ALF):

Type A – Requires the resident to be physically and mentally capable of evacuating the facility unassisted in an emergency. They do not need regular assistance during sleeping hours.

Type B – Residents may require assistance to evacuate and may be incapable of following directions in an emergency. Often require attendance during nighttime hours.


When considering a Residential Care Home, it is important to find out if they are licensed or not and what level of services they provide.  If not licensed, are they operating legally and following state and federal guidelines for operations? What levels of care can they provide?  It is advisable to enlist the help of a Senior Living Advisor like Ruby Care Senior Living Advisors, as they can narrow down your search and ensure that you know what you are walking into versus wasting time on numerous homes that may not be a good fit or even worse operating illegally.  


With many different care options to choose from, making the decision as to what is the right care setting involves considering the specific needs, level of independence, and medical requirements of the individual. A group home such as a residential care home may be just what you and your loved one are looking for to provide quality senior care when the time comes. Knowing one has options outside of a traditional assisted living facility or nursing home empowers individuals and families to make informed decisions based on the needs and preferences of their loved ones.


Author: Britt Hemsell | Senior Living Advisor & Blog Contributor

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