September 13, 2013
As the baby boomer generation ages the demand for assisted living facilities is expected to rise dramatically. But concerns remain over flimsy regulation of the industry.
According to Richard Mollot executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, the industry is poorly regulated at state and federal levels.
“Unfortunately, for some reason, the industry has fought any kind of meaningful standards, especially I think national standards would be most important to ensure that there’s some safety and some level of quality across the board.”
Mollot says because assisted living facilities are marketed as a community-like alternative to nursing homes, there’s often confusion over the level of care that these places provide.
He argues this often leads to the admittance of residents who need a higher level of care than the facility is licensed to offer.
“The industry says more and more, oh you know, we do have requirements in the states, generally speaking, of the level of care we can provide for. But we see that constantly being violated.”
Shelley Sabo, executive director of the New York state Center for Assisted Living, says it should be the responsibility of both facilities and consumers to ensure expectations of care are clear before a resident moves in.
She says the state Department of Health conducts annual inspections of facilities and that current regulations are adequate.
“I think we have very extensive and complex regulations for providers in New York. It’s a multi-tiered approach to adult care and assisted living with many layers of care.”
Richard Mollot says not even the highest level of license, granted to facilities that are able to take residents with conditions like dementia, are required to have a registered nurse on staff.
He says it’s critical for stricter regulations, enforcement and disciplinary practices to be put in place in the industry to ensure quality care is available for a rapidly aging population.