Why would you get cited for going on vacation? Good questions – you shouldn’t, but providers do get cited for not being available during a licensing inspection! Find out why, and how not to be one of them.

Are you getting mixed messages about what to do when you go on vacation or out of town? Are you trying to find a specific WAC that specifically addresses what to do if you’re not available? Are you unable to get a straight answer about when you have to report your unavailability to RCS/DSHS?

When it happened to me a few years ago, I was furious at the idea that I needed to let the DSHS licensor know about my personal schedule. That is crazy! I got cited three days before returning from Europe when the licensor came for the annual inspection and discovered I wasn’t available. Recently, there have been questions about this on FB, so I wanted to clarify this requirement.

If you’re looking for a WAC that addresses what to do when you’re going on vacation and you can’t find it, stop trying. There isn’t one!

What you will find is a requirement relative to “provider and staff availability” (in WAC 388-76-10200). That WAC essentially says:

“The AFH must ensure the provider, entity representative or resident manager is readily available to authorized state staff.”

The entity representative or resident manager needs to be fully qualified, able to speak on behalf of the AFH, make decisions on behalf of the AFH, speak with or meet the licensor in person, answer questions, get into records, take corrective action, and the like.

Citations on this come down to one main issue: the DSHS licensor shows up for an inspection or complaint, they can’t find the provider, and it isn’t clear to them who is in charge of the adult family home operation during your absence. This excludes your “normal staff.” For example, if you have three shifts daily with multiple staff and none of them are “officially” designated as a resident manager, this will likely be an issue.

It doesn’t have to be you, the provider, but you need to let your licensor / DSHS know who is in charge if you are not available (such as when you go on vacation), so they know who to contact when they are looking for the person in charge.

What if the DSHS licensor shows up to the AFH and the resident manager in charge is there, and he/she is qualified and able to make appropriate decisions on behalf of the adult family home?

You should be fine.

What’s the safest way not to get cited? If it isn’t absolutely clear and obvious who is in charge during your absence, the safest practice to avoid a citation is to send your licensor a note letting them know the dates that you’re not available, and who they should contact if they need anything.

To Recap:

  • No citations issued for being on vacation – check.
  • No WAC exists relative to being on vacation – check.
  • WAC can be interpreted differently by DSHS or Providers – check.
  • Must have a competent resident manager or provider who can act on behalf of AFH available at all times to DSHS staff – check.
  • Tell your licensor that you’re going on vacation, and make sure they know exactly who is in charge of the adult family home during your absence – good idea.

Live fully, love openly, and make the world a better place!

Joseph Spada
Joseph Spada

Adult Family Home Consultant, geriatric nurse, owner of Spada Care Homes, Ohana Hale Senior Living, and Savanna Healthcare; DSHS instructor of the AFH Administrator Training; speaker; author.

    2 replies to "How to go on Vacation and NOT Get Cited by Your DSHS Licensor"

    • Patty Aracely Jackson

      I run into your comment about a provider being on vacation from 2015, are you currently active on the AFH business, and instructor? I’m a provider in the Sumner are for the last seventeen years. I’m interested to hear more on your marketing classes if you still an active instructor. Thank you. Patty Jackson.

      • Joseph Spada

        Hello, Patty!

        Yes, I am an AFH provider as well as a DSHS-approved AFH Administrator certification instructor – I mostly teach at North Seattle College. I created and teach marketing workshops, among other things, including one called “The AFH Marketing Roadmap – your step-by-step blueprint to attract, impress, and convert private pay residents into eager buyers, even if you’re not a marketer!

        Anyhow, there is no marketing workshop scheduled at this time. There is provider near Vancouver who asked me to come and teach in that area, so perhaps my next one would be near that area…


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