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Massachusetts Nursing Homes Continue to Defy Law on Dementia Care

July 21, 2015

More than half of Massachusetts nursing homes that advertise dementia care do not satisfy the state’s requirements to make such a claim, according to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire (MANH) chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The organization’s review of the state’s 400+ nursing homes found that 197 facilities say that they offer services specifically to people living with dementia.

But of those 197 nursing homes, 114 (57.9 percent) have not complied with a state law — signed into law in 2012 and hammered out by 2014 — that requires dementia-specific training and safety standards for Massachusetts nursing homes.

Among other dementia-related measures, the law requires direct-care workers to receive at least eight hours of dementia training during their orientation period, as well as four-hour booster trainings annually.

The law applies to all Massachusetts nursing homes, and says that facilitates cannot specifically advertise their dementia-care capabilities without satisfying its requirements.

Loophole Remains Open

The law was designed to “close a loophole that had allowed nursing homes to advertise dementia care services without specific training for their workers, specialized activities for residents, or safety measures to prevent residents from wandering,” wrote Boston Globe health reporter Kay Lazar on July 15.

But the MANH’s review of marketing materials from Massachusetts nursing homes showed that the loophole is still being exploited.

A survey of nursing homes conducted earlier in 2015 by the Globe came to a similar conclusion.

State Senator Pat Jehlen (D), a co-sponsor of the original 2012 law — and a veteran of PHI’s Come Care with Me initiative — told the Globe that she and her fellow legislators were disappointed and concerned with the apparently widespread disregard for the state’s new dementia-care standards.

“This is wrong,” Jehlen said. “Families need to know this was the intent of the law, that you could not do false claims and there would be some quality standard. People [in the legislature] are very concerned.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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