Assisted Living in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a popular state for seniors, with 17.7% of the population aged 65 and over, and that’s expected to grow to 25% by 2030. To meet the accompanying need for increased funding and services for the elderly population, several cities in Rhode Island have joined the AARP Age-Friendly Network as part of larger plans to improve the quality and accessibility of their communities.
The state is ranked 11th of 50 overall in our 2022 Senior Living Report and it’s in the top 10 for health care, senior living, transportation and quality of life. With a relatively high total cost of living, however, Rhode Island didn’t earn a place in the top 10 states. The cost of housing in particular is 23.4% higher than the national average, and assisted living costs are also well above the norm. Rhode Island’s assisted living facilities cost an average of $6,826 per month.
This guide helps seniors and families assess the cost of assisted living in Rhode Island, with comparisons to other states and cities in the region and possible sources of financial assistance. Useful resources and services for seniors in Rhode Island are also listed.
The Cost of Assisted Living in Rhode Island
Seniors in Rhode Island pay far higher prices than the average American for assisted living care. The statewide average of $6,826 per month is 34% than that of the United States, according to the Genworth Financial 2021 Cost of Care Survey. Massachusetts isn’t far behind Rhode Island, with assisted living costs of $6,500 per month, and in New Hampshire the average drops to $6,053. Connecticut and Vermont are much more affordable, with assisted living averages in both states roughly 25% lower than those in Rhode Island.
The United States
Providence offers a monthly saving of $763 compared to the state average for assisted living. The survey has insufficient data for other cities in Rhode Island, however, so here’s data from comparable cities in nearby states. In Connecticut, cities such as Norwich and Hartford are significantly more affordable, at $4,300 and $5,225 per month, respectively. The closest surveyed cities in Massachusetts include Barnstable Town, the most expensive in the region at $7,000 per month, and Worcester with a monthly average of $5,685. Seniors in Boston pay $756 more each month for assisted living compared to those in Providence.
Barnstable Town, MA
Rhode Island’s assisted living facilities are relatively expensive at $6,826 per month, and the cost of home care for seniors is just slightly lower. Home care costs an average of $5,720 per month, and in-home medical services raise the monthly average to $5,958. Adult day health care, which may also be an option for more independent seniors, is the most affordable by far, at $1,798 per month. Nursing home care is 38% more expensive than assisted living in Rhode Island.
Home Health Care
Adult Day Health Care
Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)
Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Rhode Island?
Yes, eligible seniors and people with disabilities in Rhode Island may be covered by Rhode Island Medicaid for some assisted living costs. Coverage is provided by the traditional state Medicaid plan based on functional and financial criteria, such as the amount and type of help required and the income of the applicant.
Rhode Island Medicaid provides Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) that create alternatives to nursing home care for people who can live safely in an alternate setting. Eligibility for this program is required for Medicaid recipients who prefer community-based care, such as assisted living or in-home services, rather than a nursing home. After an assessment, nurses and physicians develop a care plan that provides long-term care and preventive services in the most appropriate living environment for the individual.
What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Rhode Island
Initial and ongoing assessments are performed to determine coverage for services received in assisted living. The list varies for eligible recipients based on their specific needs and may include the following services:
- Personal care
- Case management
- Housekeeping, laundry and cooking
- Medical supplies
- Transition care (moving from hospital or nursing home to the community)
- Physical therapy
- Skilled nursing
- Non-medical transport
Medicaid doesn’t provide coverage for room and board in an assisted living facility.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Rhode Island
Medicaid covers many vulnerable members of the community, including seniors and people with disabilities. The main eligibility requirements include income, assets and functional needs, as detailed below. All sources of income for the applicant and/or spouse count toward the limit, including Social Security payments and pensions. Countable assets include bank accounts, stocks and other financial holdings.
Single applicants have an income limit of $30,276 and an asset limit of $4,000. It’s the same for a two-person household where one person applies for Medicaid. The spouse who doesn’t apply can have assets up to $137,400 for some financial protection. In a two-person household where people apply, the individual limits double.
Annual Income Limits
Two-Person Household (Only One Person Applying)
$4,000 for applicant
$137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household (Both People Applying)
Eligibility for services is based on individual needs and circumstances. In addition to the financial eligibility requirements above, to qualify for Medicaid, people must be:
- Resident of Rhode Island
- U.S. citizen and/or lawfully admitted alien or permanent resident
- Age 65+
Coverage for services received by eligible residents in assisted living and other community-based care can only be granted after an assessment of the applicant’s needs. The individual must be assessed with a need for the level of care typically provided in a nursing home and able to be treated more appropriately in a less restrictive environment, such as assisted living. The Department of Human Services makes the final decision on this functional/clinical level of care requirement.
How to Apply for Medicaid in Rhode Island
Much of the application process for Medicaid and Long-Term Services and Supports can be completed by phone and online via the DHS website, which also has application forms that can be sent by mail. Rhode Island residents can also apply in person at local DHS offices throughout the state. Free programs that can help with the application process are listed below in this guide.
Information You Will Need
Applicants may be asked to provide proof of:
- Identity, age, residency and citizenship/immigration status
- Income and assets
- Housing costs
- Disability and/or blindness (if applicable)
Resources listed below can help determine what’s needed and how to obtain certain forms of proof.
How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid
Help with Medicaid eligibility requirements and the application process is available from the resources listed below. All assistance is provided at no cost to Rhode Island seniors and families.
Call 211 or (401) 462-4444 or visit the website for regional office contact information
This helpline, operated by the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging, provides free information, assistance and connections to Medicaid and other appropriate services for seniors and people with disabilities.
Call the Department of Human Services call center at 1-855-697-4347 for answers and assistance
Contact the Rhode Island DHS for help understanding Medicaid and the options available for long-term care as well as assistance with applications for benefits.
Call the toll-free helpline at (888) 884-8721 to speak with a specialist
Rhode Island seniors can contact specialists at the Medicare-Medicaid Enrollment Supports program for free, personalized support and options counseling.
Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Rhode Island?
The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Rhode Island. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.
For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Rhode Island.
Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Rhode Island
Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.
How to Apply
How It Works
Aid and Attendance
Learn more and apply online at va.gov.
Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Assisted Living.
Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov
If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Assisted Living. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance
Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.
Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Assisted Living. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Assisted Living will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Rhode Island
The state and many local governments can help seniors and caregivers get access to the information, answers and services needed to stay healthier and more independent for longer. Nonprofits may also provide services directly to eligible residents.
Call the Office of Healthy Aging at (401) 462-3000
Rhode Island's Office of Healthy Aging is a source of services and information for seniors and people with disabilities. It provides free assistance over the phone or in person at local offices throughout the state. Specialists are knowledgeable on aging-related issues, such as long-term care insurance and other ways to pay for assisted living.
Call the state VA at (401) 921-2119 for assistance
Veterans and/or their eligible dependents can receive coverage for assisted living, in-home care and other community-based services if eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. The Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services can help find the relevant documents and answer any questions in the application process.
Visit the website for a map of centers and contact information
The Age-Friendly Rhode Island Initiative provides a list of senior centers statewide. Residents can use the map to find a nearby center or browse the list to find contact information and links to the website for each. Senior centers can help elderly residents remain in the community for longer by acting as a point of service for local providers.
Call (888) 351-0808 or use the contact form on the website
This state-funded organization is responsible for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which generally acts as an advocate for residents of long-term care facilities in Rhode Island. Ombudsmen can help resolve complaints made against staff and facilities through local investigations as well as state and federal advocacy.
Call 1-855-330-9131 to schedule a trip with at least 48 hours notice
The NEMT program provides free transportation to seniors for appointments and treatments, as well as to adult day care centers and nutrition sites.
Call (410) 490-7612
This nonprofit organization works with many other nonprofit service providers for seniors in Rhode Island. It offers a directory of local senior housing providers, including assisted living facilities, adult day health services and nonprofit nursing homes.
COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Rhode Island
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including health.ri.gov and rules.sos.ri.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/22/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.
Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?
Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?
Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?
Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?
Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?
Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?
Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?
Outings & Social Activities
Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?
Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?
Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?
Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?
Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?
COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents
Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?
Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?
Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?
Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?
Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?
*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s Department of Health licenses assisted living facilities and ensures the regulations are followed. The complete regulations can be viewed online, and summaries of some relevant points are included below.
Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements
The facility must create an individualized plan in writing based on the health and social needs of each new resident. Family are encouraged to discuss everything in the plan, including the list of services expected, financial terms, residency agreements and discharge criteria.
Assisted Living Admission Requirements
Facility administrators may develop their own admission and discharge criteria, within reason. For example, a facility can't admit a resident whom it can't care for properly.
Assisted Living Scope of Care
Light, intermittent medical care is provided in assisted living. Residents must not have an unstable condition that requires constant medical care. Assisted living facilities that offer memory care units must have increased staffing, therapeutic activities and appropriate safeguards against wandering and other behaviors.
Assisted Living Medicaid Policy
Participation in the state Medicaid program is voluntary for assisted living facilities in Rhode Island. Facilities that accept Medicaid recipients are paid a set daily rate for the care and services provided. Medicaid recipients have a personal needs allowance of $100 per month and remain eligible for full Medicaid benefits while in an assisted living facility.
Assisted Living Facility Requirements
Assisted living facilities must be able to provide light medical care, all daily meals and accomodation to each resident. Facilities must prevent vulnerable residents from wandering or encountering hazards within the building.
Medication Management Regulations
Unlicensed care staff may only provide reminders and assistance for residents who can self-administer their medication. Licensed staff are required to administer medication, and a pharmacist is ultimately responsible for the overall administration of medication.
Facilities must have sufficient staff on duty to provide all necessary care and services. Qualified staff must be available when needed to perform relevant tasks, such as administering medication.
Staff Training Requirements
All new employees must receive in-service orientation and training within 10 days of being hired and before they're permitted to work unsupervised. Training must be specific to the individual's duties while also including general facility issues such as fire prevention, residents' rights and medical emergency procedures.
Background Checks for Assisted Living
All employees of assisted living facilities in Rhode Island must submit to a criminal background check by the FBI within 1 week of employment.
Requirements for Reporting Abuse
Abuse, neglect, mistreatment and accidents must be reported by facility staff to the Department of Health and have a detailed incident report filed within 24 hours of occurrence. If a resident is injured, they must be examined by licensed personnel. A preliminary report on the resident's condition must be submitted to the DOH within 48 hours.