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New dementia care standards proposed for Mass. nursing homes

August 15, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Massachusetts state regulators recently unveiled proposed rules on dementia care training for staff at long-term care communities that offer dementia services. The proposal would require all direct-care workers (including medical directors, nurses, social workers, dietary aides, therapists and activity staff members) to receive eight hours of training to care for residents with dementia and four additional hours annually. The goal is for all direct-care workers to have the proper training to relate to residents with dementia, even if they are on the unit temporarily. Nationally, training ranges from four to 40 hours.

The proposed requirements are the culmination of a state law passed in 2012, according to an article in the Boston Globe. To develop the rules, regulators at the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Healthcare Safety met with patient advocates, nursing home leaders and reviewed the dementia training requirements nationwide. The eight hours of training reflects the national median, the article stated.

In addition to training, nursing homes would be required to provide activities a minimum of eight hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight activities should be provided on an as-needed basis.

The rules also address the design of special care units. Nonpatterned flooring and lighting that eliminates glare and reduces shadows should be installed to help reduce agitation and confusion these residents might experience. Overhead paging systems would be prohibited.

After a public comment period, the rules will be voted on in October.

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