BOSTON, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advocates for Alzheimer's patients who worked to secure quality of care regulations of dementia care in nursing homes were rewarded for their efforts today. The Public Health Council approved final regulations that will require special training for all direct care workers in licensed long term care facilities, as well as other quality of life standards.
"These regulations have really been a labor of love for thousands of people affected by this difficult disease," said James Wessler, President/CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. "Family members, health professionals and those with the disease have all advocated on behalf of regulations that will protect some of the most vulnerable in our population."
The regulations also close a loophole that had allowed nursing homes to market Dementia Special Care Units without any dementia specific training for staff, specialized activities for residents or physical accommodations for cognitively impaired residents. Drafted by the Department of Public Health, and subjected to public hearings, the regulations have been more than eight years in the making—that was when they were first proposed via legislation drafted by the Alzheimer's Association.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 120,000 people have Alzheimer's in Massachusetts. That number is expected to grow dramatically as baby boomers age. While age is not the only risk factor for the disease, it is the most significant one. Nearly 32% of those aged 85 and older will develop Alzheimer's. Of those aged 65 or older, nearly 1 in 9 will develop the fatal disease.
"We applaud all those who have played a role in bringing the regulations into being. There have been legislative champions, the legislature itself passed the bill calling for regulations, Governor Patrick signed them into law, and of course the Department of Public Health for their hard work in crafting the regulations," Wessler said. "These regulations will increase the peace of mind to an estimated 350,000 family members of those affected by the disease."
Direct care works in nursing homes will receive specialized training, and nursing home and dementia special care units will have to meet minimum care standards. The regulations outline minimum requirements for dementia specific activities for residents. The regulations also specify minimum safety and quality standards for dementia care units in long-term facilities, including physical design of the units that is therapeutic and mitigates dangerous wandering activity.
More than 5.4 million in the U.S. have Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Information about Alzheimer's and resources available are available through the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline 800-272-3900 or at alz.org/MANH.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Association