State regulations for assisted living help protect seniors from substandard care. 2012 ushered in significant reforms in many states, but we’ve still got work to do in 2013 and beyond.
Assisted living facilities, unlike nursing homes, are regulated at the state level rather than federally—so reforms to state law are critical to the improvement of senior care. Properly implemented reforms protect residents and senior living companies alike, as well as addressing problems within the assisted living system. In 2012, a wide range of new state regulations meant changes to training requirements, employee background checks, medication management, Medicaid eligibility, and more.
2012 Changes to Assisted Living Regulations
Navigating the maze of regulatory changes can be a challenge for consumers. Fortunately, the Assisted Living Federation of America provides a State & Regulatory Snapshot of changes to legislation and regulations in each state throughout 2012. Even a quick glance shows that we’ve made a lot of progress in improving deficiencies in assisted living, while also taking a stand against some “reforms” that might have been potentially harmful.
Here are some of the significant trends we noticed in the ALFA Snapshot for 2012:
- Assisted living staff background checks: More and more states are requiring criminal background checks on caregivers providing long-term care to seniors. States making changes to background check laws and/or regulations included Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah.
- Assisted living staff training and licensure: Arizona is one of the states to propose amendments to the rules governing caregiver training programs, standards, and curriculum. Other states specifying new standards for licensing and training of health aides and other caregivers included California, Idaho (which implemented new requirements for nurses), Louisiana, Maryland, and Ohio.
- Medication administration: Many new regulations outlined who is legally allowed to administer medication–Washington D.C., Maryland, and Michigan, for instance, updated regulations to include home health aides, spouses, domestic partners, and community employees to receive prescription orders and administer medication.
- Medicaid eligibility: Changes to Medicaid eligibility in North Carolina will mean that those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia can be served by assisted living facilities. Medicaid-related changes also took place in Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon.
- Resident safety: Various other laws and regulations addressed the protection of senior assisted living residents from abuse, neglect, and substandard care, ranging from expanded definitions of elder abuse to improvements in transportation and supportive services.
Improving Assisted Living in 2013 and Beyond
ALFA also assesses the Top Ten Deficiencies in the assisted living system each year, and this gives us a road map for where we still need to improve on the care provided to seniors. The 2012 report shows that while many states made progress with respect to meeting level of care requirements, improving background checks, and investigating and preventing abuse and neglect, some areas still need attention.
Rather alarmingly, the most common issue was medication administration—from failing to discard expired medicines to incorrectly documenting the administration of medication. Staff training and emergency preparedness continue to make the top 10 list of deficiencies, despite some positive regulatory changes in 2012. ALFA also reports widespread issues with resident admission requirements, resident assessment, and administrative recordkeeping.
A Place for Mom can help you find reliable senior care that complies with state laws and regulations. Our directory listings provide up-to-date information on member communities, and our advisors are available by e-mail or phone to answer your questions.