Alzheimer’s disease experts on the Massachusetts South Shore and statewide believe that a new law signed by Governor Deval Patrick last Sunday will improve care in nursing homes. It is widely believed that the legislation will also do a better job of regulating the industry where the majority of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients live their last days.
The new law mandates certain minimum care standards and training for personnel that care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes. The regulations also help family members to select a nursing home because it will be easier to identify those nursing homes that have conformed to state regulations as opposed to just considering the differing care that each nursing home proposes to offer to a prospective resident.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will work with the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and the state of New Hampshire to draft the specifics of the regulations in 2013. While the details of the regulations will be worked out at that time, the basic framework calls for dementia-specific training for direct-care workers, activity directors and supervisors in traditional nursing homes and special-care units.
There are an estimated 120,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in Massachusetts. The Alzheimer’s Association believes that roughly 70 percent of those people with the disease are currently being treated at home, but that most will end up in a nursing home at some time for anywhere from a few months to two years.
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