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Guide to Senior Living in Utah

As of 2019, 11.1% of Utah’s 3.21 million residents were 65 or older. The U.S. Census Bureau expects this age group to make up 17% of the state’s population by 2030, an increase of nearly 30% from 2012. Utah is attractive to seniors because it ranks second in the nation for the overall health of its older adults. The state is also home to several national parks, has health care costs that are lower than the national average and also has a higher life expectancy than the national average.

Due to the state’s moderate cost of living, the cost of senior living in Utah varies based on the type of care, but each falls within $200 – $1,100 of the national average, according to Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey 2019. This guide contains information on the costs of care in Utah, information on state agencies that may be able to provide financial assistance and an overview of the regulations Utah senior living facilities must follow.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Utah Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Utah Department of Health (see also CoronavirusUtah resource), as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to assisted living facilities Types I and II.

This data has been most recently updated on 7/17/20, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes, outdoors or window visits (conditions apply) 
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes 
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?NA
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?Yes
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?Yes, but it is strongly discouraged and must be pre-approved by staff
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?Yes, if they left for a non-essential reason
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes, for those who need help eating
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?No

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors 

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?Yes (availability of testing may be limited)
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Safety Measures for Residents 

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?No
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes (testing availability varies)

Paying for Senior Living in Utah

Utah seniors have several options when it comes to long-term care. While many seniors opt for assisted living, others prefer to remain in their homes or move into skilled-nursing facilities. In terms of cost, adult day care is the most affordable, while nursing home care is the most expensive.

$4576

In-Home Care

$3400

Assisted Living

$4576

Home Health Care

$1560

Adult Day Care

$6403

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Utah

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019, seniors in Utah can expect to pay an average of $3,400 per month for assisted living. This is much lower than the national average of $4,051 per month, but the cost of assisted living varies significantly among Utah’s nearby states. For example, New Mexico has much higher average costs even though it has a lower overall cost of living. Nevada has the same average costs as Utah, and Arizona’s average costs are slightly higher.

$3400

Utah

$4051

United States

$3400

Nevada

$3750

Arizona

$4095

Colorado

$4100

New Mexico

The Cost of In-Home Care in Utah

In-home care is best for people who are healthy enough to live on their own but require help with daily tasks that they can no longer accomplish on their own, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and dressing. This type of care costs $4,576 a month in Utah, which is about a few hundred dollars above the national average of $4,290. It is still much cheaper than rates for in-home care in Arizona, $4,767, and Colorado, $4,957. Seniors on a tighter budget may have better luck in Nevada or New Mexico where the monthly in-home care cost is equivalent to the national average. 

$4576

Utah

$4290

United States

$4290

Nevada

$4767

Arizona

$4957

Colorado

$4290

New Mexico

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Utah

Utah’s monthly nursing home care rate of $6,403 falls well below the national average of $7,513. Additionally, it presents the most affordable prices for nursing homes in the area as all neighboring states have monthly rates $30-$1,794 higher than Utah’s. Arizona is the closest in price at $6,433 a month while Colorado is the most expensive at $8,197 a month. Nevada and New Mexico fall in the middle with rates of $7,604 and $7,330, respectively. 

$6403

Utah

$7513

United States

$7604

Nevada

$6433

Arizona

$8197

Colorado

$7330

New Mexico

Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Utah

Medicaid

In Utah, eligible seniors may qualify for the New Choices Waiver program, which covers the cost of services provided by a senior living facility or in-home health workers. Although any adult who is at least 65 years old and receives either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability benefits is eligible for the waiver, limited slots are available. Most slots are reserved for people who live in a hospital or skilled nursing facility and want to move into a senior living facility. Applicants are enrolled in the program until all slots have been filled.

Non-reserved slots are also available, but the program receives many more applications than it has openings, so Medicaid uses a ranking system to determine which residents receive services under this waiver.

Contact: Eligibility guidelines change frequently, so the Utah Medicaid program does not offer an online application for the New Choices Waiver program. Seniors should call 1-800-662-9651, option 6 to obtain current application materials.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Utah

Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.

In Utah, the Department of Health, Facility Licensing and Certification regulates senior living facilities. DHFLC classifies a facility as either Type I or Type II. Type I facilities serve residents that are mobile and able to take life-saving action without the assistance of another person in the event of an emergency. Residents of Type I facilities must also have stable health and require little to no assistance in the activities of daily living (ADLs). Type II facilities serve residents that need more assistance. For example, a Type II facility may admit a resident who needs total assistance with more than three ADLs.

Administrator Requirements

Utah requires any administrator of an senior living facility to be at least 21 years old, pass a criminal background check, have knowledge of applicable regulations and be capable of providing appropriate care or directing the provision of appropriate care to residents. Each type of senior living facility has separate education, training and experience requirements for administrators. In a Type I facility, the administrator must have a minimum of an associate’s degree or two years of work experience in the health care field.

The administrator of a small Type II facility must meet one of the following requirements:

  • An associate’s degree in a health-related field;
  • At least two years of management experience in the health care industry; or
  • At least one year of work experience as a licensed health care professional.

The administrator of a large Type II facility must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Possession of a health facility administrator license issued by the State of Utah
  • A bachelor’s degree in a health-related field with management training or a minimum of one year of management experience
  • A bachelor’s degree in any field with management training or with one year of management experience and one year of experience in the health care field
  • An associate’s degree with at least four years of experience in the health care field.

Staffing Requirements

Utah requires qualified direct-care professionals to be on the premises of a senior living facility 24 hours per day. A facility must hire enough direct-care staff to meet the needs of residents as outlined in their service plans. The facility may also hire staff members to perform clerical work, housekeeping duties, maintenance and other services.

To provide direct care to residents, an employee of an senior living facility must be a certified nurse aide or at least 18 years old. Employees must also receive on-the-job training and possess any licenses or certifications required by state law.

Training Requirements

Before they have unsupervised contact with residents, employees must complete an orientation program that covers confidentiality, residents’ rights, ethics, facility policies and procedures, the facility’s emergency response plan and other relevant topics.

Additionally, every direct-care employee must receive at least 16 hours of training with a supervising nurse or another employee who has at least three months of experience at the facility. The training should be customized according to the duties outlined in the employee’s job description. Employees must also receive yearly in-service training on topics such as resident nutrition, principles of sanitation, medication management, accident prevention and first aid.

Service Plan Requirements

Staff members must assess each resident and develop an individualized service plan (ISP) that addresses the resident’s medical, social and cognitive needs. This plan must be completed within seven days of the resident’s arrival at the facility. The ISP must include what services will be provided, how the services will be provided, who will provide the services and how often the services will be provided. If a change in services occurs, the plan must be updated to document why the changes are taking place.

Medication Administration Regulations

Every resident must be assessed by a licensed health professional to determine what level of support is needed for medication administration. Residents who can self-administer medications may be permitted to keep their medications in their rooms. If safety is a concern, however, residents may be required to keep their medications in a locked compartment in the facility. For residents who self-administer their medications, staff members may provide reminders of when it’s time to take a medicine or when it’s time to refill a prescription. Staff members are also permitted to assist residents with opening their medication containers.

For residents who can’t self-administer their medications, medication may be administered by a staff member designated by a licensed health professional. If medication is administered by an unlicensed staff member, that person must be supervised by the delegating health professional and receive training in medication administration. Supervision may take place in person or over the telephone. All medications must be administered exactly as ordered by the prescriber.

Utah Senior Living Free Resources

Utah Agencies

Aging and Adult Services

Aging and Adult Services is a division of Utah’s Department of Human Services. The agency links services offered by the Administration on Aging, a federal agency, with services offered by Utah’s Area Agencies on Aging to ensure that Utah seniors have access to a variety of resources to meet their unique needs. Aging and Adult Services has an ombudsman program to help resolve problems with long-term care facilities, a handbook that explains the legal rights of Utah seniors and information on Medicare and other programs.

Contact: Seniors can reach the Aging Services Administrative Office at (801) 538-3910 or by email at [email protected].

Area Agencies on Aging in Utah

Area Agencies on Aging help coordinate resources for seniors living in all 50 states. Each state has a network of regional offices to ensure that seniors are referred to appropriate resources in their communities. Utah has nine Area Agencies on Aging to serve residents in all areas of the state. Some, such as the San Juan County AAA, serve a single county; others, such as Bear River AAA, serve residents of several counties.

Veterans Affairs Offices in Utah

The Department of Veterans Affairs assists veterans of the U.S. Military with obtaining medical care and covering certain expenses. VA benefits usually don’t cover senior living services, but veterans who receive VA pensions may qualify for an additional benefit that can be used to cover the monthly rent for a senior living facility. This benefit is known as the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, and it supplements an existing pension with additional funds for services provided by home-health workers or the staff members in long-term care facilities.

Social Security Offices in Utah

The Social Security Administration issues monthly payments to millions of older Americans. Money for these payments comes from payroll taxes; employers pay half the tax, and employees pay the other half. Regular Social Security payments can be used to pay for any expense, including senior living. For seniors receiving Social Security disability payments or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it may be possible to use Social Security benefits to pay for senior living, but both programs have income and asset limits, so it’s wise to consult an experienced adviser before using the funds to pay any large expenses.

SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICEADDRESSPHONE NUMBER
Ogden Social Security Office 84401324 25th StreetOgden, UT 84401(877) 378-9081
Provo Social Security Office 8460188 W. 100 NorthProvo, UT 84601(866) 366-9549
Saint George Social Security Office 847701091 N. Bluff StreetSaint George, UT 84770(866) 446-7085
Salt Lake City Social Security Office 84111175 E. 400 SouthSalt Lake City, UT 84111(800) 772-1213
South Jordan Social Security Office 8409510138 S. Jordan GatewaySouth Jordan, UT 84095(866) 690-1947

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Utah Medicaid pay for assisted living?

In limited circumstances, Utah Medicaid may pay for assisted living under the New Choices Waiver. Any adult who is at least 65 and receives either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security disability payments is eligible for the New Choices Waiver; however, limited slots are available. Most of the reserved slots are for residents of nursing homes and other facilities who want to move out of their institutional environments and into something more home-like. The program does have some non-reserved slots, but the number of applicants far exceeds the number of openings.

How much does assisted living cost in Utah?

In Utah, assisted living is relatively affordable, averaging just $3,400 per month. This is more than $500 per month less than the national average of $4,051.

Does Medicare pay for assisted living?

No. Medicare usually doesn’t pay for assisted living, but it may cover the cost of a temporary stay in a skilled nursing facility.

What is the difference between assisted living and independent living?

The main difference between assisted living and independent living is the level of support provided to residents. At an assisted living facility, staff members are available to help residents with their daily activities, remind them to take their medications and ensure that each resident eats nutritious meals tailored to their medical needs and personal preferences. With independent living, staff members do not provide medical care or help with daily activities. Residents may not have much contact with staff members unless they attend a group outing or have questions about amenities.

Who should consider assisted living?

Assisted living is an option for seniors who are unable or choose not to live on their own but still want to maintain their independence. Although assisted living facilities provide help with some activities of daily living, an assisted living facility in Utah may not admit an individual who is immobile or needs extensive medical care. For seniors in stable health, assisted living is a lower-cost alternative to entering a nursing home.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Utah

Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Utah cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.

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