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A Kentucky bill aimed at modernizing assisted living in the state is receiving support from senior living advocates, who call it “long overdue.”
Senate Bill 11 will “modernize and strengthen oversight and care” of assisted living residents by transitioning services from a certification model to a licensure model, according to main sponsor Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester).
Kentucky Senior Living Association Executive Director Bob White said he is in favor of the bill.
“It modernizes assisted living in Kentucky by making assisted living a basic health service model,” White said. “If the bill passes, we will follow the trend throughout the country.”
LeadingAge Kentucky President Timothy Veno said the bill places Kentucky on par with most other states, moving assisted living from a social model to a basic healthcare model.
“SB11 also seeks to eliminate consumer confusion when seeking services, oftentimes challenged to differentiate between personal care and assisted living services, by merging assisted living and personal care,” Veno said. “SB11 also responds to consumer demand by allowing assisted living to provide more services, thereby allowing residents to remain in the least restrictive setting for longer periods of time.”
Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities / Kentucky Center for Assisted Living President Betsy Johnson said that KAHCF / KCAL is part of the coalition working to make SB11 law. The legislation, she said, standardizes senior housing offerings in Kentucky.
“SB 11 is consumer-friendly and encourages meaningful aging in place, as well as recognizing the importance of dementia care in assisted living,” Johnson said.
The bill merges personal care — the basic health services model — with assisted living’s social model — which prohibits the provision of health services — into one broader assisted living community licensure category. Apartment-style personal care homes that meet assisted living building standards will be relicensed as assisted living communities.
The expanded assisted living definition would include care from beyond independent living until skilled nursing or a secured dementia care unit is required. Care would adjust to the resident’s needs rather than being defined by location. Individualized service plans would identify care to be provided.
“Under the current law, residents are forced to be uprooted from their familiar environment to be transported elsewhere for care,” Alvarado posted on his Facebook page. “This bill, in the simplest terms, will permit our older citizens to remain in their home while being treated for whatever condition may be ailing them.”
Providers would choose how much care to offer within the broader definition of assisted living. Staffing requirements would be based on the care level provided.
For assisted living communities with memory care, additional staff training would be required and would align with recommendations of the General Assembly’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Workforce Assessment Task Force. The language in the Kentucky bill was strongly influenced by the Minnesota assisted living statute, which was recommended as a model by the Alzheimer’s Association.