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New Jersey partners with HCANJ in quality program for assisted living

February 13, 2012
by Patricia Sheehan
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A new partnership between New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services and the Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ) aims to enhance quality and consumer information about assisted living (AL) residences in the state.

The four-year pilot program, titled Advanced Standing, will offer a designation by the HCANJ Foundation, which verifies that an AL facility has satisfied all state licensing regulations and also meets quality benchmarks.

“The Advanced Standing program will expand oversight of assisted living facilities and for the first time collect quality data on these facilities,” Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said last Friday.

Advanced Standing is a voluntary program that AL facilities choose to participate in. There are 215 AL facilities in New Jersey, according to the state department. Forty HCANJ member facilities have already expressed interest in participating in the program. The department will also be represented on the peer review panel for the program, which will choose the quality indicators that will be reported by facilities participating in the program.

“This program also represents a change in culture for state government—more often we are in the position of ensuring minimum standards, which are enforced with penalties and fines,” said O’Dowd. “But in this case, we are asking providers to go beyond the minimum—to strive for excellence and be awarded with a special designation.”

Within this pilot project, the department would maintain full state oversight of AL services and facilities. It will continue to conduct complaint investigations for all facilities, but limit routine inspections to facilities without Advanced Standing. In addition, the department will randomly conduct unannounced surveys at up to 25 percent of facilities with Advanced Standing in the first year of the project and up to 10 percent each year after to validate surveys performed through this pilot. Until the launch of this pilot, the department was inspecting AL facilities every two years.

Potential residents and their families can ask to see a documentation that indicates the facility has been given an Advanced Standing status. The department also will note on its website what facilities have the Advanced Standing designation.

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