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Memory care staff would receive dementia-focused training under proposed bill

caregiver and older woman
Credit: FredFroese/Getty Images

Proposed changes to existing Nebraska regulations on training for memory care staff would specify dementia-focused education, but senior living organizations in the state disagree on the need for statutory requirements.

LB1221, proposed by the Nebraska chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and introduced last week, would require all staff members in memory care units across the state to undergo at least four hours of training focused on dementia. 

That training would include an overview of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and would cover how the disease affects caregivers, person-centered assessment and care planning, progressive support for activities of daily living for each stage of the disease process, and dementia-related behaviors and communication. 

The Alzheimer’s Association contends that the changes would not increase the total amount of training required under current law. Instead, but would specify that the training be focused on the dementia population.

At least one senior living organization, however, said that the state already requires assisted living community and nursing home direct care staff members to take four hours of training pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care and treatment.

“LB1221 would specify the exact topics that must be included in that training, limiting a facility’s ability to select an Alzheimer’s and dementia topic based on their residents’ and resident families’ needs at any given time,” Nebraska Health Care Association President and CEO Jalene Carpenter told McKnight’s Senior Living. “It would actually create a problem by cementing detailed requirements into statute and overlooking the fact that, as research, diagnostic techniques and early treatment options evolve, that specific statutory language may no longer be valid.”

NHCA is the parent organization of the Nebraska Assisted Living Association, the Nebraska Nursing Facility Association, the Nebraska Health Care Learning Center and the Nebraska Health Care Foundation. It is the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted living.

For states that don’t have existing Alzheimer’s and dementia care requirements, such a bill may be beneficial, Carpenter said, adding that the legislation doesn’t address a problem in Nebraska.

LeadingAge Nebraska, however, said it supports the proposed bill, saying that it would clarify training requirements for staff members working in special care units. CEO Kierstin Reed said that the bill would not increase the total number of training hours but, rather, clearly articulates the topics that would need to be covered in the settings.

“The vast amount of research being conducted regarding the care and treatment for those experiencing Alzheimer’s and other dementias is changing rapidly,” Reed told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We want to ensure that those working with this population stay current on the best practices of caring for those with these diagnoses.”

Reed said she believed that most providers already are meeting the bill’s criteria but said that the legislation “can only further provide clarification on the training needs for staff working in this area for those that are not already covering these important topics.”

“We want to ensure that those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diagnoses in Nebraska are receiving the best possible care in our memory care services,” she said.

Thirty-nine percent of assisted living residents in Nebraska have diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Source: McKnights Seniorliving

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