Apply for Personal Care Home Services

Personal Care Homes (PCH) are residences that provide help with the tasks of daily living for older Pennsylvanians or people with disabilities.


PCHs are community residences that provide housing, meals, supervision, and assistance with personal care and tasks of daily living.

PCHs serve older Pennsylvanians and people with physical, behavioral health, or cognitive disabilities who are unable to care for themselves but do not need nursing home or medical care.

PCHs can provide assistance with:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Walking and getting in and out of bed or chair
  • Toileting, bowel and bladder management
  • Personal hygiene, bathing
  • Arranging for and managing healthcare
  • Making and keeping doctor's appointments
  • Assisting with or administering medications
  • Positioning in bed or chair
  • Doing laundry
  • Arranging for transportation
  • Shopping
  • Managing finances
  • Using the telephone and writing letters
  • Caring for possessions
  • Participating in social/recreational activities
  • Using prosthetics
  • Obtaining and utilizing seasonally appropriate clothing

PCHs are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. They are usually privately-owned, although some are operated by local governments or non-profit agencies. In Pennsylvania, homes may be licensed to care for as few as four people and as many as several hundred.


PCHs are inspected and licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The operation of a PCH is governed by 55.PA Code Chapter 2600. Licensing requirements include fire safety; staff training and education; nutrition and meal preparation; resident health and medical care; personal care service delivery; physical site conditions; and other factors affecting the health, safety, and well-being of residents.

DHS inspects each PCH every year and investigates complaints. Information about the licensing status and history of specific PCHs can obtained by searching for the PCH on the Human Services Provider Directory.

Choosing the Right PCH

Choosing a PCH for yourself or a loved one is an important task.

You can search the Human Services Provider Directory by service type, zip code, county, and region of the state to help you locate a licensed home in your area.

Checking to be sure that a PCH is licensed is the best way to ensure that the home receives regular inspections of its physical site and service delivery. The Human Services Provider Directory contains information on license status, copies of licenses, regulatory waivers issued by the Department of Human Services, and inspection reports that detail observed regulatory violations and the PCH’s plan to correct them.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Location: Proximity to family, friends, shopping, public transportation, faith-based community, library, and other community resources.
  • Size: Both large and small homes offer advantages depending on the resident's lifestyle and preferences.
  • Cost Monthly fees and service charges vary greatly. There are over 1000 PCHs in Pennsylvania serving residents of all income levels.

Before choosing a PCH, it may be helpful to:

  • Visit several times at different times of day and night.
  • Visit as many rooms as possible.
  • Ask about staff training and qualifications.
  • Ask how long staff have worked at the home.
  • Watch and listen to how staff talk to and interact with residents. Do they treat residents with respect?
  • Read and ask questions about the home rules regarding smoking, pets, visitation, and other requirements.
  • Review the activities schedule and watch activities in progress.
  • Speak to people who live there, to the staff, and to the administrator.
  • Read the menu and observe a meal.
  • Review resident contract provisions.
  • Ask about optional services and additional fees, if any.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nursing homes are medical facilities that are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. They must meet both state and federal requirements. There is third party reimbursement (Medicare and Medicaid) for those who qualify based on income.

PCHs are residential facilities that offer personal care services, assistance, and supervision to four or more persons. They are inspected and licensed by DHS. Sometimes they are advertised as "assisted care," "retirement homes" or "boarding homes." A PCH must have a license to operate in Pennsylvania. There are state licensing regulations that apply to PCHs. These regulations protect the health, safety, and well-being of residents. There are no federal regulations for PCHs. There is no third-party reimbursement for PCHs, but many PCHs accept residents with low incomes who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

This can depend on a variety of factors. For example, you or your loved one might become uncomfortable with living alone due to the possibility of falling, getting sick, safety issues, forgetting to take medications, loneliness, poor nutrition, or difficultytaking care of household responsibilities. Your loved one may be unable to manage routine tasks and may be at great risk when they try. Family members may not be able to provide a safe level of care for this individual.

Help may be available through either in-home supports provided in your loved one's own home, your local Area Agency on Aging, or through a facility-based option, such as a personal care home.

Contact the personal care home and ask to see a description of services. This description of services will tell you exactly what services the home provides. Each home is required to have a description of the services available. Ask to see a copy of the standard resident-home contract that will include the fee for each service offered by the home.

Activities at personal care homes are developed to meet the needs of each resident. Some activities are done in groups to provide opportunities to socialize with others, while others are individual activities for each resident. Most activities usually take place at the PCH, but some PCHs can offer trips to interesting places in the community. Activities available are dependent upon which personal care home you choose. This is a factor that you may want to look into when choosing a personal care home for your loved one.

A resident who lives in a personal care home has many rights, including:

  • No discrimination because of race, color, religious creed, disability, handicap, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, age or sex.
  • No neglect, intimidation, physical or verbal abuse, mistreatment, corporal punishment, or discipline in any way.
  • To be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Informed knowledge of the rules of the home and given 30 days written notice prior to the effective date of a new home rule.
  • Access to a telephone in the home to make calls in privacy. Non-toll calls will be without charge to the resident.
  • The right to receive and send mail.
  • Privacy of incoming and outgoing mail.
  • The right to communicate privately with and access the local ombudsman.
  • The right to practice the religion or faith of the resident's choice, or not to practice any religion or faith.
  • Receive assistance in accessing health services.
  • Receive assistance in obtaining and keeping clean seasonal clothing.
  • The right to access, review and request corrections to the resident's record.
  • The right to furnish their room and purchase, receive, use, and retain personal clothing and possessions.
  • right to leave and return to the home at times consistent with the home rules and the resident's support plan.
  • The right to relocate and to request and receive assistance in relocating to another facility.
  • The right to freely associate, organize, and communicate with others privately.
  • The right to be free from restraints.
  • Compensated in accordance with state and federal labor laws for labor performed on behalf of the home.
  • The right to receive visitors for a minimum of 12 hours daily, seven days per week.
  • The right to privacy of self and possessions.
  • The right to file complaints with any individual or agency and recommend changes in policies, home rules and services of the home without intimidation, retaliation, or threat of discharge.
  • The right to remain in the home, as long as it is operating with a license.
  • The right to receive services contracted for in the resident-home contract.
  • The right to use both the home's procedures and external procedures to appeal involuntary discharge.
  • The right to a system to safeguard money and property.
  • The right to choose their own health care providers.

Personal care homes are not medical facilities and they do not have to hire nurses or other medical staff. Personal care homes are required to hire staff who meet basic education requirements. Personal care homes must provide initial and ongoing training for staff.

No. You should only be asked to pay for the care and services you receive. Whatever monies and possessions you have in addition to that remains yours.

Contact Information

Facility Questions

If you have questions concerning a specific facility, please contact the appropriate DHS Personal Care Home Regional Licensing Office.

Find a Regional Office

Submit a Complaint

To submit a complaint about a Personal Care Home, make a submission by calling the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) or by submitting the online form.


Submit a Complaint

To submit a complaint about a Personal Care Home, make a submission by calling the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) or by submitting the online form.

Submit Online