Consumer Guide: Finding and Choosing a Residential Care Apartment Complex
In Wisconsin, the Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) licenses and regulates assisted living facilities. Each type has a directory. In the residential care apartment complex (RCAC) directory, you can find details about each RCAC.
There's also a Glossary for Assisted Living Directories that helps define complex terms.
What is a residential care apartment complex?
An RCAC is a type of assisted living facility. It is an independent apartment complex where five or more adults live. The size of RCACs can vary. Right now, RCACs can have 5 to 109 apartment units. The average RCAC has 36 apartment units.
To qualify as an RCAC, a space must have:
- An entrance and exit that can lock.
- A kitchen with a stove or microwave oven.
- A personal bathroom.
- Space to sleep and live.
An RCAC is not a nursing home or community-based residential facility, but it may be in the same physical building. RCACs aren't for people who have Alzheimer-related dementia or other aging conditions that require more in-depth care.
What services do RCACs offer?
RCACs provide a space for living. They also offer these services for no more than 28 hours per week:
- Emergency assistance - Ensures all tenants are safe during an emergency. Emergency help is available 24 hours per day.
- Nursing services - Includes health monitoring, medication administration, and medication management.
- Personal assistance - Provides help with daily living activities. Examples include getting dressed, eating, and bathing. Many tenants of RCACs have a meal plan with two meals per day.
- Supportive services - Helps with housekeeping and access to community services and recreation. RCACs give these services themselves or contract with other groups that offer them. The services must be part of a tenant's service agreement. All tenants sign an agreement before moving into an RCAC.
RCACs give these services themselves or contract with other groups that offer them. The services must be part of a tenant's service agreement. All tenants sign an agreement before moving into an RCAC.
How are RCACs regulated in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, RCACs must follow these laws:
- Wisconsin Admin. Code. ch. DHS 89
- Wisconsin Admin. Code ch. DHS 12 - Caregiver Background Checks
- Wisconsin Admin. Code ch. DHS 13 - Reporting and Investigation of Caregiver Misconduct
An RCAC is either certified or registered:
- Certified RCAC - Has both tenants who pay for the RCAC themselves and those who get Medicaid. Certified RCACs get inspected every two years or if there's a complaint.
- Registered RCAC - Only has tenants who pay for the RCAC themselves. Does not get inspected, except if there's a complaint.
Residential care apartment complex resources
Expand the section that applies to you to view a list of resources. Select a link to learn more.
These resources can help you learn more about RCAC options. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) doesn't refer people to specific RCACs. We do offer many state and national resources, though, that can help you choose.
- Aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs) - Learn how ADRCs serve the public and how to contact your local ADRC. ADRCs help with issues that affect older adults, people with disabilities, and their families. Your ADRC makes it easy to learn about options near you and apply for programs and benefits. Their services are free if you live in Wisconsin.
- Assisted Living Facility Trends and Statistics - View data about each type of assisted living facility. Includes who they serve, how many they serve, the number of staff, and more.
- Choosing an Assisted Living Facility, P-60579 - Learn about assisted living facilities and keep track of your options. Includes a checklist and questionnaire to guide you.
- Choosing Care Providers - Know what questions to ask and steps to take when finding a new provider. This source is from the Alzheimer's Association.
- DQA Bureau of Assisted Living brochure, P-00204 (PDF) - Learn about the DQA and Bureau of Assisted Living. See what they regulate, and attend an assisted living forum.
- Provider Search - Use the Provider Search tool to find health and residential care providers in Wisconsin. You can filter results to show only certain types of facilities, such as a residential care apartment complex.
- Residential Care Options by County - Access details about residential care options based on where you live. Use a map or county listing to select your county and learn more.
DQA takes routine surveys of assisted living facilities in Wisconsin. The goal is to make sure facilities meet state requirements and offer quality care. Results of surveys are public. These resources relate to the surveys:
- Assisted Living Facility Survey Guide - Learn more about the survey process.
- Bureau of Assisted Living Provider Search Monthly Additions, P-02567 (Excel) - See which assisted living facilities have had survey documents added to the Provider Search in the past month.
- Provider Search - Use the Provider Search tool to find health and residential care providers in Wisconsin. View any survey results from the past three years. If you can't find survey information, email DHSWebmailDQA@dhs.wisconsin.gov.
These resources help you understand laws that protect you and your care.
- Client Rights Office - Find out how to get advice about your rights from a team of experts. This office helps people who get services for a disability, mental health, or substance use. They'll tell you more about your rights under the law, Wis. Stat. §§ 51.30 and 51.61, and what they mean.
- Complaints or Problems with Your Health Care - Find out how to file a complaint about your health care. Includes problems with health and residential care facilities, providers, insurance, and medical bills.
- End-of-Life Planning - Learn about how to plan for the end of life. Includes details on advance directives, do-not-resuscitate orders, privacy rights, and more.
- Board on Aging & Long Term Care - Work with this group to learn more about your rights, health care systems, and long-term care. Their job is to advocate for your interests. They have several programs that can help you:
These resources are for those who help an older adult or person with a disability.
- Assisted Living - Find information on topics that help you advocate for quality care. This resource is from The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.
- Caregiving - Learn how to care for a person with Alzheimer's or dementia. Find resources and tips for caregivers from the Alzheimer's Association.