Back in 2014, the Alzheimer's Association helped shape a regulation in Massachusetts that requires facilities to provide dementia-specific training for staff. The regulation applies to any facility or unit that “uses any word, term, phrase, or image, or suggests in any way, that it is capable of providing specialized care for residents with dementia.”

These facilities are also required to have at least one therapeutic activities director on staff and to be person-centered with a focus on supporting residents’ visual, lighting, spatial, recreational, and safety needs. 

The Alzheimer’s Association is now finding that “nearly 60% of Massachusetts nursing homes that say they can handle residents with dementia” are not meeting the standards.

Why are so many facilities not meeting the standards?

The regulation was passed with the best intention: To make sure that every person with dementia receives the best possible care and quality of life.

But often when legislation passes, it’s easy to be confused about what you have to do to comply—and by when. I can certainly empathize with the confusion that can occur when legislation is put in place without the resources you need to even begin to comply.

Plus no one’s sole job responsibility is to source training providers. Rather, everyone is busy with everything else, because everyone wants the same thing: better outcomes.

And when it comes to achieving better outcomes, we can help.

What exactly are the regulations facilities need to meet?

I understand that the state requirements can be confusing, and maybe even frustrating. Basically, facilities are required to provide eight hours of initial dementia-specific training for staff, and four additional hours of training per year.

The regulations require that training include an introduction to the foundations of dementia and dementia care, be interactive, reflect current standards and best practices, and include an evaluation for each staff member to take and pass. Training documentation is also required to be available for MA Department of Public Health review.
The regulations also set standards for person-centered, therapeutic activities and standards for outdoor and common spaces, noise control, safe windows and doors, lighting, visual contrasts to help residents navigate, and more to make communities dementia friendly.
As the law is in effect now, staff should be trained and prepared, systems should be readied, and environments should be adapted as soon as possible.

What can we do to meet the regulations?

You may be meeting many of the regulations already. Take a look at my summary, and consider everything that you have in place in terms of training, person-centered activities, and your physical environment. If you need more details, read the full regulation, 105 CMR 150.00 [PDF] and the Commonwealth of MA’s letter to nursing home administrators [DOC].

And if you’re still confused, give us a call. We help communities like yours use our Dementia Capable Care training and consulting services to exceed standards and maximize residents’ function, safety, independence, and quality of life. We also help communities develop and enhance therapy and activity programs and structure their physical environments to support residents’ physical and emotional well-being. With Dementia Capable Care training and services, you can meet the regulations for training, evaluations, documentation, activities, and physical environment.

To learn how we can help you with this and challenges related to revenue, safety, census, staff turnover, and more, download Addressing Your Dementia Care Challenges [PDF].

We look forward to helping you become a leader in memory care who meets—and exceeds—standards for the quality care that every person deserves.

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