Workers in nursing home dementia care units will now have to receive eight hours of initial training plus four hours of additional training every year, according to rules recently adopted by state regulators. The new regulations also require such facilities to have, at the very least, one therapeutic activities director. The therapeutic activities director is responsible for ensuring residents in the dementia unit are provided with appropriate and meaningful activities.
These new regulations close a legal loophole that permitted nursing homes to advertise their dementia units without actually providing workers with specific training or residents with specialized activities. The regulations were finalized by the Public Health Council, an appointed body of health advocates and academics that sets public policy.
Another change that has been under discussion of late is the requirement for a 6-foot fence surrounding outdoor areas, with the goal of preventing residents from wandering away and becoming lost.
However, some nursing home operators objected to this change, arguing that facilities in urban areas might never be able to meet a requirement mandating that residents have access to outdoor space if 6-foot fences were required. Other operators said that fences this high could reduce residents’ enjoyment of the opportunity to be outside in the first place.
The Public Health Council came up with a compromise, requiring that nursing homes with dementia care units must have a “fence or barrier to prevent injury and elopement.”
It is important to note that the new regulations require that all licensed nursing homes, not simply those advertising dementia units, must provide dementia-specific training for every direct-care worker within 180 days.
As a dedicated Massachusetts elder law attorney, I applaud these new regulations and invite you to click on the link below to learn more about them.