Senate Releases Assisted Living Report

Article excerpt

In spite of the "untidy" process, "it was an honest good-faith effort by all," stated Stephen McConnell, vice president of the Alzheimer's Association, Washington, D.C.

"The report needs to be disseminated widely to state leaders," said Robert L. Mollica, senior program director of the National Academy for Policy, Portland, Maine, Yet, he noted, "despite 18 months of hard work by numerous individuals, unanimous agreement was not possible but I doubt anyone expected it."

McConnell and Mollica spoke at an April 29 hearing of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging the committee's release of the 381-page "Final Report" of the Assisted Living Workgroup. The report is the product of 18 months' work by representatives of nearly 50 organizations, such as industry groups and consumer advocates, which are concerned about the disparate state regulations governing the estimated 30,000 assisted living facilities across the United States. Not only the does the report include 110 recommendation covering everything from staffing levels to medication to management to affordability, but it also lists 21 proposals that failed to garner the necessary two-thirds vote of member groups to be counted among the official recommendations.

AN UNUSUAL APPROACH

"Nothing like this has been available before," stated Stephen McConnell, who was a key participant in the workgroup's steering committee of 13 organizations. He stressed that the Senate committee's unusual approach "has helped to move the debate forward and will contribute to improvements in policies and practices affecting the assisted living industry and ultimately to better care for those in assisted living."

McConnell explained, "The work-group's report is not a set of regulations to be adopted word for word by states." Rather, he went on, "it is a detailed set of recommendations about what assisted living should look like-what it should be." He said the report will be a valuable resource in policy discussions at the federal, state and local levels.

Noting that 40%-60% of all assisted living residents have dementia-a number that "will only grow as current residents in place"-McConnell said the Alzheimer's Association is especially pleased to see recommendations on the list calling for certain requirements, such as training all assisted living staff in recognizing the signs and symptoms of possible dementia in their residents, and protecting residents from danger, especially residents with unsafe wandering behaviors. …