How To Start An Adult Day Care Business

By Mike Gomez

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Let’s be very clear about something: an adult day care business is not something you should go into lightly.

There are regulations and strict guidelines involved, and people’s lives are in your hands.

So, if you’re just looking to make a quick buck, stop reading right now. This is not the business for you.

However, if you have a passion for helping people and want to do some good in the world (while earning some extra income), this may be exactly the kind of business you want to explore.

The cost of a full-time care facility can be way too expensive for a lot of families – even if Medicare kicks in for part of the bill. Other families just aren’t ready to commit their parents and grandparents into an institutional living situation.

Instead, they make the commitment to care for them in their own homes for as long as possible. Regardless, the families still need time to go to work, run errands, go to school and have an occasional day off to recharge from the constant demands of 24/7 care giving.

How To Start An Adult Day Care Business

This is where an adult day care can really help. By committing to take the highest possible quality care for these loved ones, an adult day care gives families the time and freedom they need to continue to live their lives and continue to earn an income.

The truth is that so many of these facilities have waiting lists because there is such a strong demand for adult day care services. If you enjoy helping others, keep reading and we’ll cover everything you need to know to start an adult day care service of your own.

Step 1: Learn How an Adult Day Care Business Works

Before you even consider letting families entrust their loved ones to you, you must understand how this business works.

And the best way to do that is to be trained and gain experience by working at an existing adult day care facility.

Yes, you can learn all about medical conditions and regulations through books and videos. But until you hold an elderly woman’s hand as she walks down the hall, or listen to the memories of a WWII veteran as he tells you about how he first met his wife, until you actually form a relationship with these people, then understand what it is to operate an adult day care service.

And honestly, these facilities always need help. So even if it’s only as a volunteer, go and help out.  They’d be glad to take you in. Talk to the day care attendees. Ask them what they like and dislike about being at an adult day care facility. Talk to the staff. Ask them what they like and dislike about working there.

That’s called market research. You’re learning how to improve your future service by getting real, practical answers from your target demographic for both future clients and future employees.

Once you’ve seen how the day to day care of the business works, how the hiring, scheduling, and ordering of supplies works, how the storage and distribution of medicine works, how the maintenance and upkeep of the facility works, then you’re ready to dig into the legal requirements of how to start an adult day care.

Click here to find your state’s adult day services regulations and requirements.

You can also look for training and workshops in your area by checking with the National Adult Day Services Association’s list of strategic partners.

Step 2: Create a Plan

Why does an adult day care business fail?

Simply put, for the same reason as many other businesses – it’s the lack of a plan.

An adult day care business are not a simple operation.

By now, you should have completed all your research on legal requirements and on the day-to-day operations of an adult day care business.

There is a lot of care, time, effort, and resources that go into this industry. The purpose of creating a business plan is so you have a roadmap to follow. When the time for action and decisions comes, you don’t have to pause to consider your choice. You already know it. You thought it out well in advance and made your decision long ago. Now, you simply follow your business plan and execute.

Consider your costs, your audience, your marketing, your hiring, your location, an in-depth market needs analysis, and many other things when creating your business plan. The goal here is to get your mind focused on your business so that you can answer any and all questions regarding what comes next.

If you’re not sure where to start, Startup Jungle can help you create an expertly organized and professional business plan for your adult day care business.

Just email, and they’ll give you the help you need.

Step 3: Discover Earning Potential

How much do adult caregivers make?

Well, that depends on the position.

Assistants range from $9.55 to $22.85 per hour depending on experience and tenure. That comes out to about $19,000 to $48,000 a year.

A manager’s salary can run from $9.74 to $25.87 an hour, or $21,000 to $48,000 a year.

And a  healthcare administrator salary can range between $25,016 – $70,973 a year.

As for an adult day care facility, reports that the national average for adult day care charges is about $1500 per month. This is a deal compared to full-time care in a skilled nursing home, which averages  $6700 a month, or an assisted living facility, which averages  $3600 a month.

For occasional care, state averages range from $36 to $122 a day depending on the level of care required.

To really figure out your earnings potential, you must first examine all costs and then subtract them from what your rates will be multiplied by how many clients you expect to provide care to.

The National Adult Day Services Association reports that the number of adult day care services has risen by nearly 25 percent since 2010, continuing a previous growth trend in the industry. As of 2014, they counted 5,685 adult day care programs in the United States.

The baby boomer population is one of the largest age groups in the country, and they’re reaching the age where many of them are beginning to need adult day care services for needs such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related conditions that necessitate full-time care to ensure their safety.

There’s a growing need for adult day care services, meaning your earnings potential can only go up.

Step 4: Set a Budget

How much does it cost to open an adult day care business?

It’s really tough to nail down exact numbers for the startup of an adult day care, but it’s not cheap.

A lot of it depends on the scope of your operation.

Do you plan to build or remodel an existing stand-alone facility for a lot of residents? Or does a small home setting sound more appealing to you?

If you’re planning on a facility, at minimum, that can be hundreds of thousands of dollars to start. Then you have to fit the structure with ramps, wheelchair- and senior-friendly bathing facilities, adjustable beds, security measures, and adequate kitchen and dining facilities.

You have to pass a health inspection, as well as getting properly licensed both as a facility and a healthcare administrator, and hiring the medical and social service personnel to make sure your visitors receive excellent quality medical care while in your care.

In addition, you need to purchase lift assist and toileting assist devices and liability insurance, as well as providing refrigeration and secure storage for medications and training for staff in med passing, first aid, CPR, lifting, transporting and hygiene.

That doesn’t even include aesthetic measures to make your place comfortable and welcoming for residents and their families, and providing entertainment and stimulation during their stay.

Depending on the needs of your clients and the size of your operation, a startup could easily run up to half a million dollars or more.

Again, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are tons of grants out there to start an adult day care center.

Some grants you can explore:

Because starting an adult day care business is expensive, it’s important to keep costs down to save money where you can without cutting corners or sacrificing quality of care.

Some tips to keep costs down include:

  • Monitor utilities
  • Staff accordingly (labor is always your #1 cost)
  • Properly order supplies
  • Budget food properly so you aren’t wasting food by tossing out leftovers
  • Invest in re-washable and reusable rags instead of paper towels to clean messes

Examine every single cost, and be as detailed as possible in planning out your budget. The more successful you are in creating a budget, the more efficiently your business will fun.

Step 5: Decide Which Services to Offer

Adult day services are so important because they can delay or even prevent a family from having to institutionalize a loved one in a skilled nursing home.

However, different facilities can offer different specialties.

For example, your facility may choose to specialize in clients with Alzheimer’s, or those with physical disabilities who may be wheelchair bound.

Your specializations can influence your facility.

If your day care focuses on those with wheelchairs, you may want to lower the height of all the counters, shelves, and tables in your facility to make everything in the building more accessible and comfortable to your clients. If you go with Alzheimer’s patients, then you may want to install doors which require a code to open and automatically close and lock so that patients can not simply wander off.

Perhaps, you can focus on a full daily calendar with entertainment for all your attendees. A high quality experience at your facility is sure to earn referrals and new customers. Or maybe yoga for seniors?

One service that you may want to offer is patient pickup/drop off. This requires an additional expense of a modified van to allow wheelchair access, as well as the cost of a driver and additional insurance. But such a service would almost guarantee customer loyalty and referrals.

By focusing on which services you offer or specialize in, you increase customer satisfaction in those areas and build a strong reputation for your service as an authority in the field.

Figure out what you can do better than anyone else, and focus on that. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your service, maybe it’s your experience. Figure it out, write it down, and make it your facility’s centerpiece, literally and figuratively.

Step 6: Decide on a Location

Where should you open an adult day care business?

That all depends on who your clients are.

Because you’re dealing with the elderly, you want a location which will be gentle to their bodies, so you’ll want to avoid areas that require a lot of walking or stairs.

All your decisions should cater to your clients. And because your clients’ bodies are not as strong as they once were, make it a point to locate your facility next to their homes. That doesn’t mean set up shop next door to your grandmother, but it does mean do some research on where there are aging baby boomer populations, and set up your adult day care service within those areas.

By making your location easy to get to from their homes, you are removing a major objection from your buyers (the children of the seniors), in that they may say “I don’t have time to get them there every day.”

Things to consider for an adult day care service include:

  • Local, state, and federal regulations – especially the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Ability to evacuate everyone within easily
  • State of repair of the facility
  • Lighting
  • Traffic
  • Ease of finding the facility
  • Ease of pickup/dropoff
  • Cost – renting or buying

Running an adult day care service is a lot of work, but by selecting a great location, you make your job a little bit easier.

Step 7: Find Suppliers

What equipment do you need to open an adult day care business?

Once again, the answer to that question depends on your business’s specialization.

Other than a proper facility, there are many things you will need when starting an adult day care service.

Some of these include:

  • Medical equipment and devices
  • Lift-assist equipment
  • Safety gear
  • Entertainment options
  • Therapeutic devices
  • Lift chairs
  • Tables and chairs
  • Commercial kitchen
  • Commercial laundry
  • Bio-hazardous waste disposal
  • Beds
  • Sheets and Blankets

These are the basic needs you’ll have when starting your facility. Make sure to do a thorough inventory of what you need by consulting your local state agency.

Once you know what you need, you need to know where to get your supplies.

A couple options to get you started are:

Step 8: Promote Your Adult Day Care Business

How do you promote an adult day care service?

This is a tricky question. It’s not as simple as promoting many common everyday businesses. However, the principle is the same – get in front of people who need your service.

For marketing and promotions, take advantage of Google Adwords to be featured in searches. Facebook is another powerful tool. Create a subtle ad directed at men and women over age 45 within a certain distance of your business.

But the most important marketing and promotion for your adult day care service is through networking. There is a strong and engaged support network for seniors. They need to know you exist.

Get involved with local groups such as:

  • Veterans Administration
  • Senior center providers
  • Meals on Wheels programs
  • Head trauma groups
  • State and local provider and consumer agencies, such as AAHSA, NADSA, and NADSA affiliates,
  • Local YMCAs and YWCAs
  • Friends, family members, and other service providers
  • Postal carriers and clergy are excellent networking people since they know so many others

Step 9: Create a Staffing Plan

Who works in an adult day care center?

It’s impossible for you to do everything on your own in this business. So it’s important to have a proper staffing plan.

You must understand how many employees you need, where you will find them, and what certifications they must possess in order to work in your facility.

Different positions will have different specifications. For example, an arts and crafts teacher may have different requirements than whoever oversees medications. When in doubt, always contact your local state agency for requirements and recommendations as to how many employees you need and what roles are required.

Once you’re clear on that, then you have to plan how and where to find them. Reach out to local agencies for suggestions, but hospitals and volunteer centers are a great starting point.

Also, look around at local colleges and universities with medical programs for help. You can find young, eager medical students who can help at a discounted rate for school credit. This is a great way to find qualified help and save money all in one move.

Your business can not survive without help, and to save time and money, you need to have a staffing plan for that help.

Step 10: Decide on a Style/Design

Deciding on a style is so important in the adult day care business because that style can either make customers feel welcome or scare them away.

Businesses which take seniors’ needs into account when designing their facilities are far better equipped to attract them as clients.. You want your facility to be warm and inviting, and make your guests feel at home.

Some suggestions for designing a style that appeals to seniors are:

  • Positive language (remember to take your medicine instead of don’t forget to take your medicine)
  • Big, clear font and text for any writing in the facility
  • Use bright colors
  • Give clear instructions where needed, using numbered lists
  • Avoid slang or acronyms

The best tool at your disposal for figuring out your design is the senior community in your area. Go talk to them and figure out what they like and do not like. After all, who knows what your clients will love better than your potential future clients?

If you need help with designs, visit 99designs. For as little as $99 you will have a collection of designers submitting their work and competing for you to select a winner who will receive your money as a prize.

It’s an inexpensive way to get a large selection of high quality work.

Struggling with what to name your adult day care business? Here are a few ideas:

Caring Companions Relief Care
Loving Care Good Hands Care
(Name)’s Place A Good Place to Visit
Home Away Breakaway Care
Angels on Call Just Passing Through
Respite Care Providers Transition Care
Day Out With Friends House of Friends
Friends Hangout The Guest House

Step 11: Create an Accounting Plan

An accounting pan is critical for an adult day care business for several reasons.

As a service for a vulnerable demographic, you’ll be eligible for several grants. But to renew those grants, you’ll have to submit documentation proving your facility is running efficiently. You have to track all expenses down to the penny.

In addition, an accounting plan ensures you know exactly how much money is available for payroll, supplies, marketing, and improving your facility. Plus, you’ll be able to make sure nothing is missing from your facility.

And of course, when tax season rolls around, your business may come under a microscope because of your grants.

Make sure you’re prepared for all of that by having an accounting plan to ensure you stick to your budget.

Some options are:

Step 12: Get Into the Adult Day Care Services Community

The adult day care services community is engaged and active. Seniors are vulnerable, and as such need a big support network. Your goal is to be as supportive as possible and learn as much as you can regarding new policies and procedures which can benefit your business and your clients.

And the best way to do that is to be active in the adult day care service community.

Focus on the same organizations mentioned within the marketing and promotions step, including:

  • Veterans Administration
  • Senior center providers
  • Meals on Wheels programs
  • Head trauma groups
  • State and local provider and consumer agencies, such as AAHSA, NADSA, and NADSA affiliates,
  • Local YMCAs and YWCAs

Most importantly, make sure you’re a member of the National Adult Day Services Association.

Here’s a great infographic about starting an adult day care business:

The Bottom Line

Opening (and running) an adult day care service is a lot of work.

But if you do it right, it’s not only rewarding, it’s a lot of fun.

You get to meet amazing people who’ve lived amazing lives and can teach you so much!

On top of that, you are literally saving lives and helping countless people.

Hopefully, you put this guide to use.

If this was helpful for you and you want to learn more about opening an adult day care business, has a 21 point checklist for starting your new business. Make sure you download this if you’re serious about getting started.

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