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Massachusetts Nursing Homes Get Dementia Care Standards

Regulators in Massachusetts have finalized the mandatory minimum standards for dementia special care units more than two years after state lawmakers approved the legislation. This is good news for dementia patients living in nursing homes and it will hopefully decrease the number of Boston nursing home neglect cases involving residents suffering from this condition.

The new rules, unveiled last year by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and now formalized by the Public Health Council, requires that workers in dementia units get eight hours of training, plus another four more each year. Facilities also need to have at least one “therapeutic activities director” working solely at the unit to make sure that the proper activities are provided for residents.

Previous to the standardized rules, Massachusetts nursing homes could advertise that they provided dementia and Alzheimer’s care even though they had no formal training. With the new rules, all licensed nursing homes, and not just those that have designated dementia units, have to put all of their direct-care workers, including nurses, medical directors, dietary aides, social workers, activities staff, and therapists, through dementia care training.

Special-care units will also have to have lighting that diminishes shadows and glare and flooring that doesn’t have the kind of visual patterns that might cause confusion to dementia patients. Overhead paging systems will only be allowed in emergency situations from now on because many dementia patients can find the noise jarring.

While the regulators had approved that there be mandatory fences that are six feet high, the Public Health Council now says that the fence or barrier doesn’t have to be that height but there still must be one to prevent elopement and other injuries.

Boston Nursing Home Abuse
The Alzheimer’s Association says that close to 120,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s in Massachusetts-a figure that is expected go grow a lot with baby boomers living longer than previous generations.

At our Boston nursing home neglect and abuse law firm, we know that dementia patients have specific care needs and it is important that this is what they receive at Massachusetts nursing homes. Failure to provide that care can cause serious health complications, death, elopement, choking accidents, slip and falls, fall accidents, and other preventable accidents and injuries. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

Dementia care standards finalized for Massachusetts nursing homes, Boston.com, February 12, 2014

GOVERNOR PATRICK SIGNS LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF CARE FOR DEMENTIA PATIENTS, Mass.gov, July 16, 2012

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