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State Unveils New Proposed Standards for Personal Care Homes

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from psna e-newsletter:

the state department of public welfare has unveiled personal care home regulations it says will bring new safety and training requirements and tougher scrutiny to an industry overdue for all of that, but there's no certainty yet of their approval.

the department began distributing the extensive, 175-page package of rules and explanations late last week to legislative committees, industry groups and various organizations interested in them. the regulations modify a proposal printed two years ago, which received substantial criticism among the 776 different written comments submitted to the department by personal care home operators, consumer advocates and others.

welfare officials scaled back some of their new requirements in response, but would still upgrade training and qualifications for staff and administrators, mandate more comprehensive reports on the needs of residents and force modifications to many physical structures for fire safety. the department would also begin unannounced, annual inspections of homes and use some new leverage against poor-performing homes, such as banning admissions of new residents until they upgrade conditions.

among the changes that would take effect within six months of approval by the necessary committees and publication in the state's legal bulletin:

dot.gif to reduce medication errors, which are viewed as one of the most common and dangerous problems in personal care homes, any facility accepting residents who cannot administer their own medications would need to put one or more staff members through a state medication training program that includes a competency test.

dot.gif new administrators would have to take 100 hours of training and pass a competency test, whereas now they receive 40 hours of training with no test.

dot.gif annual training requirements would increase from six hours for administrators and none for staff to 24 hours for administrators and 12 for direct-care workers.

dot.gif for the first time, a comprehensive assessment and support plan on a resident's needs would have to filed upon admission and updated annually. some providers objected to this proposal previously as a time and paperwork burden suitable to nursing homes but not personal care homes.

dot.gif among various fire safety requirements, every facility would have to have at least two exits on each floor. this would be among the most costly aspects of the regulations, for many providers, and they would be given 18 additional months to comply before the effective date of other regulations.

dot.gif facilities with separate, secure dementia units would have to put staff members working in them through additional, specialized training. dot.gif when a home sustains serious violations on an inspection, family members of residents are to be notified. operators of facilities have always been notified in the past of upcoming inspections, which gave them time to prepare, but that will no longer be the case.

read the entire article from the pittsburgh post gazette.

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