January 31, 2018, Mary Kate Nelson, Senior Housing News - Minnesota may soon lose its status as one of the least-regulated states for assisted living, at least if a new consumer workgroup has its way. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 allegations of physical abuse, neglect, thefts and unexplained serious injuries within state-licensed homes for the elderly, and 97% of these claims were never investigated, according to a November 2017 report in the Star Tribune.
In response to this reporting, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wrote a letter asking AARP Minnesota to assemble a consumer workgroup to develop new senior care-related recommendations for the state. On January 29, the aforementioned consumer workgroup released a report detailing their recommendations, titled “Addressing Elder Abuse in Minnesota Long-Term Care Settings: Public Policy Actions Necessary to Prevent and Deter Abuse.”
Among their recommendations, the workgroup specifically calls for assisted living licensure—which the state of Minnesota currently does not mandate.
“Minnesota is an outlier in comparison to other states when it comes to regulation of assisted living,” the report says. “All other states require licensure or similar public oversight for these settings.”
Specifically, Minnesota should develop an assisted living license that establishes clear standards for both seniors and providers, the report says. The state should seek input from different stakeholders to develop standards for admission, staffing, training and discharge criteria, in addition to definitions of and certification for dementia care.
“There are no minimum staffing requirements in [assisted living] settings that take into account the acuity level of residents beyond concepts of ‘sufficient numbers’ under Minnesota law,” the workgroup notes in the report. “Without clear standards it is difficult for consumers to understand what services are available and whether such services will meet their needs.”
The workgroup consequently urges Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health to create a new assisted living license during the 2018 legislative session to be put in place by Jan. 1, 2020. The primary goal of licensing the assisted living residential setting is to bring together both housing and home care services under one license structure, according to the report.
As part of the assisted living licensure development process, the Commissioner of Health should also establish a new Dementia Care Certification during the 2018 legislative session to be implemented by Jan. 1, 2020, the workgroup says.
Gov. Dayton recently appointed former state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm to head Minnesota’s Health Department, according to the Star Tribune.
About 60,000 seniors—39% of whom have dementia and 58% of whom are older than 85—currently live in assisted living communities throughout Minnesota, according to the report.