Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) – also known as assisted living facilities and nursing homes – are facilities that provide a level of care that includes assistance with daily living activities. These services are provided in a multitude of communities, including family-owned-and-operated ones, providers who serve seniors throughout California, and providers who offer services in communities in multiple states. These senior housing options are normally non-institutional, home-like settings that promote independence and dignity for each resident while encouraging family and neighborhood involvement.
One issue that has come to the forefront is whether RCFEs should provide transportation as a service for their residents. On balance, there seems to be more potential downsides than benefits with regard to offering resident transportation, especially with so many viable third-party services available (as well as assistance from family members). Even so, many assisted living facilities offer transportation that’s included in the monthly fees. These facilities often deploy vans or minivans to take residents to and from shopping trips, medical appointments, and other activities.
That being the case, where does the problem come in?
From a liability and insurance perspective, there could be massive hurdles to overcome should an RCFE opt to provide its own transportation. Here are three of the most important ones to consider:
Litigation against assisted living facilities is on the rise, and without comprehensive insurance coverage, a facility could be at risk for severe financial losses. Because Americans are living longer, they’re entering senior care later in life when they require higher levels of care. When assisted living facilities accept patients with more complex medical needs, including Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders, their liability risks escalate.
How does all this connect with transportation concerns? Liability insurance only covers incidents that occur within the facility. This means that if something goes wrong while taking a resident outside, the facility would not be covered unless a Commercial Insurance Policy was instituted. As you might imagine, this can be very costly (if done correctly), and typical auto insurance wouldn’t cover it. In fact, there are very few insurance carriers that will even allow an RCFE to provide transportation to its residents.
Here’s what needs to be considered: If a resident was to get injured while getting in or out of the vehicle, the situation would not be covered – and even if the right insurance policy is in place, is it really worth the risk?
The amount of time that would be wasted just scheduling appointments for RCFE residents alone would be a daunting proposition. On top of that, there is also the task of having to take residents to their appointments (some of which we covered above, such as doctor visits, hair/nails outings, dentist visits, etc.). The bottom line here is, if you’re operating a California RCFE, your time will probably be better spent marketing for new residents, providing tours, branding your business, finding new employees and the like.
3. Third-Party Driving Services
This one is more of a solution than a hurdle to overcome with regard to RCFEs and transportation, but it’s worth noting. There are many dependable options out there now, including Uber, Lyft and Dial-a-Ride, available in just about every city. Many hospitals and doctors offices will provide transportation, as well. There are also times an operator of an RCFE must explain to the family of a resident that this is their time to spend with their loved one, rather than sacrifice that valued time by hiring an outside transportation option.
The key when doing this is to explain that the RCFE does not offer this (transportation) service due to strict liability factors.
For those of you who own and/or operate an RCFE, please contact us today if you are interested in offering a transportation service for residents. InsureMyRCFE will work with you to provide an insurance quote to meet your needs.