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Bill package falls short of addressing long-term care workforce challenges, advocates say

Glasses on top of paper bill legislation
Glasses on top of paper bill legislation
(Credit: hapabpa /Getty Images)

Although appreciative of efforts to improve long-term care, Delaware’s senior living groups said that a package of recently introduced bills falls short of addressing workforce challenges in the state.

In an effort to address transparency and accountability of assisted living communities and nursing homes, Delaware lawmakers introduced a package of bills that tackle inspections, accreditation and certification requirements, staff training and nursing career incentives.

Among the bills affecting assisted living communities:

  • SB 215 would require the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services to conduct annual inspections of the state’s 83 assisted living communities and nursing homes. 
  • HB 300 would require assisted living communities to maintain accreditation from an independent organization, and assisted living communities that provide dementia care services would have to maintain certification to provide those services.
  • SB 150 would require staff in long-term care facilities that provide dementia care to complete 12 hours of initial dementia care services training and receive ongoing education.
  • SB 151 would require all long-term care facilities that market dementia care services to disclose that they are certified to provide those services, along with all processes, procedures and policies related to resident care and staffing. 
  • SB 216 would double the current civil penalties for long-term care facility violations to $20,000 maximum per violation.
  • SB 217 would create the Long-Term Nursing Care Support Program, which aims to strengthen the pipeline of healthcare workers by creating a career-based scholarship program to incentivize nursing students to pursue careers in long-term care facilities in the state in exchange for financial aid.

LeadingAge New Jersey and Delaware said that it is reviewing the bills and will share its feedback with the sponsors. President and CEO James W. McCracken told McKnight’s Senior Living that the association supports the funding proposal in SB 217 but is concerned about the increases costs providers will incur if HB 300 and SB 216 are enacted, calling them “unfunded mandates” that potentially could decrease the pool of money providers have available to devote to direct patient care.

The Delaware Health Care Facilities Association said that the state’s long-term care industry has reached a staffing “crisis level.” Yet despite its efforts to serve as a resource for policymakers and asking for a seat at the table when decisions affecting the industry are made, the organization was not consulted on this package of bills and adopted the mantra “Nothing about us — Without us.”

“We look forward to working with legislators and policymakers open to a collaborative approach with the industry to have a complete understanding of the current challenges and which efforts will support the industry in continually improving care for the residents it serves and the staff it employs,” a statement on the DHCFA website reads. “While we appreciate their interest in the industry, and especially the support for workforce development, we cannot support legislation where we were not included.”

Source: McKnights Seniorliving

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