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Massachusetts Approves Dementia Care Training Regulations

February 20, 2014

Direct-care workers, their supervisors, and activities directors employed in licensed long-term care facilities in Massachusetts will be required to have special dementia care training, following the state Public Health Council‘s approval on February 12 of regulations proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

The new regulations apply to facilities that specialize in dementia care as well as “traditional” nursing homes.

The new training standards require that direct-care workers receive a minimum of:

  • 8 hours of “initial training” in dementia care during their orientation period.
  • 4 hours of ongoing training annually.

The initial training is portable to other long-term care employers, if the worker does not have a lapse in long-term care employment for 24 consecutive months or more.

The mandate to implement the new rule is:

  • Facilities with one or more dementia specialty care units must ensure that the staff has been trained within 90 days from when the regulation becomes effective.
  • Traditional nursing home must provide the training within 180 days of when the regulation becomes effective.

Training Content

The final regulations also contain standards for the training content, including that the training must:

  • include a basic introduction to the foundations of dementia and dementia care, as well as any other topics listed in DPH guidelines
  • be at least partially interactive
  • include an evaluation, as deemed appropriate by the facility’s staff development coordinator or his/her designee, that trainees must take and pass
  • be appropriate for the population served by facility and include cultural competency as appropriate.

All training modules, presentations, materials, and evaluations are also required to reflect current standards and best practices in the treatment of dementia.

The new regulation closes a “loophole that had allowed nursing homes to advertise dementia units without any specific training for their workers, specialized activities for residents, or safety measures in place, such as high fences, to prevent residents from wandering,” reports the Boston Globe.

Legislation mandating minimum standards for dementia care units and training for direct-care workers was introduced two years ago. Governor Deval Patrick (D) signed the bill into law last summer.

— by Deane Beebe

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