Unlike nursing homes, Assisted Living facilities are governed by state regulations, which tend to vary from state to state. New regulations governing assisted living facilities are expected to be passed in Virginia this year. The Virginia Board of Social Services has been working on an overhaul of the regulations which are almost final.
The proposed regulations include several new provisions which could impact upon assisted living standards in Virginia. They include, inter alia, the following:
- First aid and CPR certification must be present in each building of the assisted living facility, not merely on the premises. 22 VAC 40-73-260.
- At least two direct care staff members are required to be on duty and awake when there are 20 or fewer residents present in a special care unit. An additional staff member is required for every additional ten residents or any portion thereof. 12 VAC 40-73-1130.
- Smaller residential living facilities that use an unlicensed, shared administrator must ensure the administrator is present at the facility for ten hours a week, six of which must be during the day shift. 22 VAC 40-73-170.
- Facilities are required to develop and implement an enhanced infection control program. 22 VAC 40-73-100.
- Annual training hours for staff is increased to 14 hours for facilities licensed for residential care only and 18 hours for facilities licensed for residential and assisted living care.
- Facilities must conduct a “fall risk rating” for residents meeting the criteria for assisted living services. 22 VAC 40-73-325.
- Facilities are prohibited from restricting visiting hours unless a resident chooses to do so. 22 VAC 40-73-540.
- Limitations on the exception of permitting staff to sleep at night under certain circumstances to residential living care only facilities. 22 VAC 40-73-280.
- Requiring the addition of mental health, behavioral, and substance abuse issues to the personal and social information obtained for all residents. 22 VAC 40-73-380.
- The individualized service plan must reflect when residents are unable to use the call/signaling system and the frequency of rounds to check on the resident. The assisted living facility must conduct rounds a minimum of every two hours to check on residents after bed time unless a specified exception exists. 22 VAC 40-73-930.
- The administrator is required to have additional hours of cognitive impairment training. 22 VAC 40-73-1140.
- Increased training requirements for residents with cognitive impairment . 22 VAC 73-1030.
These changes to assisted living regulations are, for the most part, a step in the right directly explains attorney Jeffrey J. Downey, who represents victims of abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities. In the last 15 years we have seen assisted living facilities accepting patients who are sicker than the typical assisted living patients, often having severe dementia. The acceptance of higher acuity patients puts more assisted living residents at risk as the staff does not typically have the training that would be mandated for hospital or nursing home personnel. The new regulations increase the training requirements for direct staff caring for demented residents, which is long overdue, explains Downey.
If you or a loved one has questions about assisted living facilities or claims for injuries caused by assisted living facilities, call the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey for a free consultation. Mr. Downey handles nursing home and assisted living neglect cases in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.