Magazine article USA TODAY

Proper Staffing Can Foster Seniors' Dignity and Independence. (Assisted Living)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Proper Staffing Can Foster Seniors' Dignity and Independence. (Assisted Living)

Article excerpt

At a time when the U.S. is moving toward home- and community-based services such as assisted living over traditional institutional care, a Federal study affirms that assisted living is an "important" option that is delivering "a high degree of consistency" on key areas such as privacy and autonomy and "has many components valued by consumers. It is very gratifying to learn that there is a high degree of consistency between the assisted living philosophy of personal dignity and independence and actual experiences of our residents. At the same time, we are pleased that industry efforts to address staffing and other typical challenges are right in line with what the findings indicate may be needed," states Karen A. Wayne, president/CEO of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). "While the natural inclination is to focus on the areas that need improvement, the report was generally positive and will be useful in helping providers and state regulators ensure assisted living is the best it can be."

The national study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the latest in a series on assisted living and particularly focuses on residents and staff of communities that fall into the high-service and/or high-privacy category. It specifically addresses consistency with the assisted living philosophy, services, staffing, cost, and the ability for residents to age in place and/or substitute assisted living for nursing home care. Among major findings of the study were mixed results on staffing. Residents give staff high-satisfaction ratings for treating them with dignity and respect (79%) and caring and affection (61%). At the same time, just 42% report that an adequate number of staff is always available and 28% say that their facility is very successful in retaining good staff. Residents' perceptions of training excellence and of staff attentiveness were mixed (52% giving them good marks).

"At a time when all health care providers face a nationwide staffing shortage, there is no doubt that the recruitment and retention of adequate staff is the number-one challenge for assisted living providers," indicates Wayne. To address these issues, ALFA supports Federal legislative efforts to increase the pool of available workers, has created a number of certification and training courses for caregivers and other staff, and is working on recommendations for states. …

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