In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,000 unique reports alleging abuse (physical and financial) as well as injury and neglect in long term care and assisted living communities across the state. This information, while always public, was brought to the public’s eye by the Star Tribune in a five-part series about elder abuse in Minnesota. With the number of residents in Minnesota assisted living communities doubling since 2006, the articles brought light to a growing concern for many.
Governor Mark Dayton responded by creating a task force that researched the abuse reports. In January, the task force released a 58-page report that calls for several changes to the assisted living industry in Minnesota. While the plan requests January 1, 2020, as the proposed requirements effective date, assisted living communities should be aware of a few changes now.
Perhaps the biggest change affecting Minnesota assisted living communities is the call to institute an official licensing process. If the process is similar to what other states have already implemented, communities can expect to have to undergo an initial inspection by the Department of Health to achieve licensed status and then an ongoing yearly inspection to maintain it.
The goal of the licensing system is to join “housing and home care services under one license structure” according to the report. In addition to the new licensing requirement, communities specializing in dementia residents will be required to undergo a special certification.
The new plan will also institute increased staff to resident ratios. According to the committee’s report, current staffing levels are less than adequate attributing to the high number of neglect reports.
There is also a plan to improve the rights of residents residing in assisted living communities. The changes establish protocols for residents to appeal rights and prohibits redefining statutory terms in resident agreements.
Next Steps for Assisted Living Communities
Until the proposed changes become a ratified bill, Minnesota assisted living communities should review their current operations and look for areas that need improvement. Once the bill is in place, take the time to review and implement the necessary changes so you can pass the licensing inspection quickly and continue providing care to your residents.