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Some Mass. Nursing Homes Still Haven’t Trained Workers in Dementia Care

February 12, 2015

Massachusetts nursing homes are struggling to comply with a law requiring them to train their staff in dementia care, according to an investigation published in the Boston Globe on February 9.

The law, signed by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) in July 2012, requires all direct-care staff, supervisors, and activity staff working in Massachusetts nursing homes to receive dementia-specific training.

The Globe called a dozen random nursing homes and asked administrators whether they had complied with the law.

Representatives from several of those facilities said they had not. They cited the prohibitive costs of training workers as the reason for their non-compliance.

For example, some staff members at Adams House, a 49-bed nursing home in Fall River, still have not received the dementia training, according to Mike Baldassarre, the facility’s chief executive.

Baldassarre said the struggling facility could not afford the thousands of dollars needed to buy the computers and training software, let alone the cost of paying workers for their training time.

“We all want to do the right thing,” he told the Globe. “It’s like everything else with the state: They give us all these mandates, but none of the resources to do it.”

Arlene Germain, president of Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, stood by the law and its requirements, but told the Globe that “strong oversight and greater nursing home participation are critical to ensure that the law’s benefits are meaningful and widespread.”

The 2012 law also created many new requirements for facilities that specifically advertise themselves as having “Dementia Special Care Units.” The Globe investigation found that several facilities are still touting their dementia-specific units without having fully complied with the law.

— by Matthew Ozga

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