New State Law Mandates Memory Care Training in All Nursing Homes

Memory care training in Massachusetts nursing homes is becoming more stringent for the communities that advertise specialized care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. 

Under new rules currently being reviewed by state regulators, those who advertise memory care in the state will be required to provide at least eight hours of initial training for care staff and four additional hours per year, according to a Boston Globe report

Citing an estimated 60% of nursing home residents who have some form of dementia, regulators intend for dementia-specific training to apply to direct-care workers among all nursing homes that are licensed in the state. Those behind the rules studied training for care providers in 16 states, the Globe writes. 

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Minimum standards for dementia care units have already been set in Massachusetts as of last year, according to the Globe. Part of the push for licensing among all nursing homes, regardless of their specialization in memory care, stems from the fact that some workers care for patients with and without dementia. 

“This is a population of [patients] who have historically struggled, and the behaviors related to dementia are challenging,” Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, director of the state Public Health Department bureau that regulates nursing homes told the Boston Globe. “This gives us the opportunity to put in play the best practices in a very fair way that everybody would be adhering to, and we think it will make a difference in the outcome of these residents.

Nursing homes are supportive of the training regulations, however they have raised concerns about the cost of the additional training hours. 

“We estimate that more than 40,000 nursing facility employees will require additional training under these proposed regulations at an annual cost of millions of dollars,” Scott Plumb, senior vice president of Massachusetts Senior Care, told the Globe. “These regulations come at a time when skilled nursing facilities are being underfunded by the state Medicaid program by more than $370 million a year and have not had a rate increase in six years.”

Issues around the training of direct care workers have raised concerns recently, as many senior patients are experiencing higher levels of acuity needs across the spectrum of senior care settings available. 

View the Boston Globe article

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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