Which types of senior homes need generators


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was unexpected and unwanted: lights and heat out as ice storms cut power to the Villa Marie retirement community in Grand Rapids last week.

Dozens of seniors there and from other facilities that lost power were bused to American Red Cross emergency shelters at Union and Ottawa Hills high schools.

“This is not the adventure I wanted,” one resident told 24 Hour News 8 Friday as she got off the bus.

Fortunately, the power was back on Monday and residents are back home, all safe and many grateful for staff and emergency crews who helped move them.

But the ordeal prompted viewers to ask 24 Hour News 8 whether senior living facilities are required to have emergency generator systems for emergencies like this. The answer is that it all depends on how the facility is classified.

Michigan law has long required that nursing homes be licensed and have generators, specifically a system that can provide at least 24 hours of normal service.

>>PDF: Design standards for health care facilities

Facilities labeled ‘homes for the aged’ provide less intensive care, but are also required to be licensed and, due to a state law enacted in 2005, to have emergency generators that provide at least four hours of full service.

The only licensed facilities that aren’t required to have backup generators are adult foster care homes, which are typically single homes.

However, many facilities that people think are specialized care really aren’t, and therefore don’t require generators or even a state license.

Villa Maria falls in that category. It refers to itself as an independent living community. Essentially, it’s a normal apartment complex that houses all seniors.

A spokesman for Villa Maria told 24 Hour News 8 Monday officials have explored adding emergency generators in the past and are now evaluating again, trying decide if it’s feasible.

If you have questions about what type of care a facility provides, be sure to ask the facility director.

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