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Calif. Boosts Training Requirements for Assisted Living Staff

November 13, 2014

Direct-care staff in California assisted living facilities will face increased training requirements, following the signing of a suite of bills by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on September 28.

Each of the 10 bills Brown signed will have an effect on the state’s 7,500 assisted living facilities, which combined serve more than 175,000 residents.

The text of the bill that addresses staff training (AB 1570) links increased training standards to better outcomes for assisted living residents. The bill is designed to “ensure that direct-care staff have the knowledge and proficiency to carry out the tasks of their jobs.”

The bill mandates 40 hours of training for new direct-care staff in areas including residents’ rights, medication policy, and cultural competency in caring for LGBT elders. At least half the training hours must be completed before employment begins.

The bill also specifies that 12 hours of training should focus on dementia-related issues, and 16 hours should be hands-on training.

The other bills will, among other measures, substantially raise fines for safety violations, establish a bill of rights for assisted living residents, and impose a stricter certification process to obtain a license to operate an assisted living facility.

Writing in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Deborah Schoch, senior writer for the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, described the package of bills as “the state’s most sweeping overhaul of the industry in nearly three decades.”

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a resident rights advocacy group, worked with the California Assisted Living Association, a trade organization representing the assisted living industry, to help lawmakers craft the bills.

“We look at it as a good start,” Patricia McGinnis, CANHR executive director, told Schoch. “But we’re not finished by any stretch of the imagination. And I don’t think the legislators are, either.”

Several provisions supported by the CANHR but opposed by CALA, including one that would have made state inspections of assisted living facilities more frequent, were amended out of the final bills, according to The California Report.

— by Matthew Ozga

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