The last two decades have witnessed an impressive expansion of assisted-living facilities for older people in many Western countries. The sector (typically labeled in America as the “retirement home industry”) has grown from a marginal form of housing, often supported by volunteer groups in limited areas, to a fi eld in which private entrepreneurs and government bodies have produced what they hold to be a viable and cost-effective alternative to formal institutionalization. Much of this growth has occurred in a context of limited or no legal regulation. Problems of the abuse of residents and substandard care have arisen as a result, and this has led to demands that the assisted-living fi eld should be regulated and formally supervised, in a fashion similar to that of institutions.