2005-02-25 / Community

Pheffer: Improve Assisted Living Facilities

As the population ages, seniors increasingly rely on assisted living facilities for the care they need. Such residences allow them to maintain their independence while still having close access to health care services. But there are growing concerns – a lack of oversight in these unregulated facilities has opened the door to abuse in some and poor quality of care in others.

Fortunately, a new law to protect the health and well-being of seniors by requiring state oversight and licensing of assisted living facilities will go into effect February 23 (Ch. 2 of 2004).

The law, known as the Assisted Living Reform Act, establishes a uniform licensing procedure for assisted living facilities through the state Department of Health. It also clearly defines “assisted living residences,” and requires that residences advertising or marketing themselves as serving individuals with dementia or cognitive impairments submit special needs plans. “This law will help New York protect is older citizens. By letting the state oversee these facilities, we are guaranteeing that safe, high-quality assisted living residences will continue to be available,” said Pheffer.

Residents and their families can be sure they’re getting quality care and service because the law requires public disclosures and sets forth a clear set of consumer rights, which:

Requires each facility to clearly post resident rights; requires the execution of a written residency agreement with each resident; sets guidelines regarding the management of a resident’s money and property; requires facilities to assist in the development and operation of resident and family councils; and sets uniform guidelines for the admission, discharge and transfer of residents. The law also creates a Task Force on Adult Care Facilities and Assisted Living Residences to recommend changes to cut red tape and to better promote choice, autonomy and independence. The task force will also gather information on rules that make care and services less affordable.

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