Adult Family Home (AFH)? What is it?

Adult Family Homes (AFHs) are small, residential homes designed to provide care for seniors and adults with disabilities. These homes are operated by licensed AFH Administrators, who often have nursing or caregiving experience, and offer a personalized approach to care. In Washington State, AFHs have a rich history dating back to the 1980s, and they have become an increasingly popular option for seniors and adults living with a disability and in need of long-term care solution.

The concept of AFHs began in the early 1980s when a group of social workers in Washington State recognized that many seniors were living in large, institutionalized settings that did not offer the personalized care and attention they needed. These social workers came up with the idea of creating small, residential homes where seniors could receive one-on-one care in a more homelike setting. The first AFHs in Washington State opened in the mid-1980s, and they quickly gained popularity as a more affordable and personalized alternative to traditional nursing homes.

Over the years, AFHs have evolved to become an integral part of the long-term care system in Washington State. Today, there are thousands of AFHs throughout the state, serving seniors and adults with disabilities of all ages and backgrounds. These homes offer a range of services, from basic assistance with daily living activities to more specialized care for individuals living with dementia or other chronic conditions.

According to a recent study by the Washington State Residential Care Council, AFHs offer a more personalized approach to care than larger facilities. The study found that caregivers in AFHs spend more one-on-one time with residents, getting to know each resident individually and tailoring their care to meet their unique needs.

One of the primary reasons for the popularity of AFHs in Washington State is the personalized approach to care that they offer. As Shubing Shi, a caregiver at an AFH in Spokane, explains, “We get to know each resident as a true individual, we learn about their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, their family history, and what routines they like. All of this helps us provide the best possible care for each individual resident.”

In addition to the personalized approach to care, AFHs are also more affordable than many traditional long-term care facilities. The smaller size of AFHs allows for a higher staff-to-resident ratio, which means that caregivers have more time to spend with each resident. This can lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for residents, as caregivers are better able to manage their care needs.

According to the Department of Social and Health Services, which regulates AFHs in Washington State, “AFH operators must meet rigorous training and licensing requirements to ensure that they are capable of providing safe and high-quality care to their residents.”

In recent years, AFHs have faced some challenges, including staffing shortages and increased competition from larger, corporate-owned facilities. However, many people continue to choose AFHs as a preferred option for long-term care, citing the personalized care, homelike atmosphere, and affordability as key factors in their decision.

In conclusion, Adult Family Homes have a rich history in Washington State, dating back to the 1980s. These small, residential homes offer personalized care for seniors and adults living with disabilities, providing a more homelike atmosphere and higher staff-to-resident ratio than traditional long-term care facilities. Although they have faced some challenges, AFHs remain a popular and important option for individuals in need of long-term care in Washington State.

Learn more by visiting the DHSH site here.


Department of Social and Health Services. (n.d.). Adult family home. Retrieved from

This article was written with the help of AI