By Ed Corbeil, Vice President of Operations and Vice Chair for Virginia Assisted Living Association
Since 2010, The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) has been working with advisory panels and the Virginia Assisted Living Association to update regulations for assisted living providers. The Governor approved the most recent regulations on August 18, 2017 with the effective Date of February 1, 2018. This is significantly important because assisted living providers are governed daily in their compliance to meet standards which grant them a license to serve residents in their communities. Upon annual and sometimes periodic measurement from licensing officials, assisted living companies demonstrate their on-going capacity to meet and hopefully exceed licensing standards of operation. In recent months VDSS has conducted trainings across the state advising assisted living companies on the nearly 200 new or amended regulations which were effective February 1, 2018 and subsequently enforceable on April 1, 2018. The regulatory modifications cast a wide net thoroughly covering such jurisdictions as standards governing resident care, medication administration, maintenance, dining, human resources, risk management, staffing and supervision, and emergency preparedness. A few specific examples of the changes include but are not limited to increasing staffing ratios in safe and secure memory care units, heightened staff qualifications and training, infection control mandates and activity programs must now meet the spiritual needs of residents.
It is important to remember that regulations are often based on minimum or basic standards, and companies are more than welcome to set policies or engage in practices which excel beyond the minimum. In reviewing several key practices here at Commonwealth Senior Living, one can safely arrive at the conclusion that we had historically enacted policies and procedures to insure both on-going compliance with state regulations and whenever possible go beyond required minimums of care. Our culture doesn’t seek out the ordinary or simply look to execute on basic standards of compliance, but rather to differentiate itself by going beyond the normal customer expectations.
As a family member, it’s important to know that these regulations are intended to improve the experience seniors have in assisted living regardless of which community you choose.
Searching for the right senior living community requires a great deal of patience and perseverance. This is not a simple “purchase” a family can rush into. It is truly an emotional period for everyone involved. So please let me encourage you to take your time and thoroughly research the many providers available and to explore the various degrees of licensure assisted living providers incorporate into their operations. Resources such as the Virginia Assisted Living Association, Argentum [the leading national assisted living trade association], the Department of Social Services, the Virginia Office of Aging and Commonwealth Senior Living all offer insightful perspectives and guidance to families navigating their way through their search to secure the right home for their loved ones.
If you come across questions in your research, feel free to email AskTheExperts@commonwealthsl.com.