Home Health Aides Granted More Power in Assisted Living Communities

Home health aides are set to play a more important role in assisted living communities, having been given approval to perform more advanced tasks by the New York state assembly. Similar measures are under consideration in more than a dozen other states.

The bill allows licensed assisted living communities to utilize home health aides for nursing tasks like administering medication.

The legislation was supported by senior housing industry advocacy group Argentum and its state partner, Argentum New York. As the industry faces a potential shortage of nurses, enabling other qualified care staff to do more advanced tasks can free up nurses to utilize their skill set more efficiently.

“Our senior living provider members advocated strongly for this legislation in concert with a coalition of consumers, other providers and education and training experts,” Ginger Lynch Landy, co-director of Argentum New York, said in a statement. “Our common goal was to expand access to high quality, safe, health-related tasks to New Yorkers living in the community.”

Giving advanced home health aides a greater range of abilities has been a long-fought battle by industry groups. Regulations on medication management vary from state to state. Under the New York bill, advanced home health aides can administer medication under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse.

The bill allows this action for assisted living communities licensed as Enhanced Assisted Living Residences (EALRs). This designation requires an assisted living residence (ADL) to have an addition certification from the New York State Department of Health, where residents can receive skilled care and age in place.

“If you let the nurses do the nursing things they are really qualified for, then they can delegate medication assistance to trained med techs, and it’s more efficient,” Maribeth Bersani, COO and senior vice president of public policy with Argentum, told Senior Housing News.

Argentum lobbied strongly in favor of giving home health aides less red tape to better serve seniors within assisted living settings.

The legislation is also being considered in roughly 16 other states and a similar bill recently passed in Tennessee, according to Bersani.

“The passage of this measure is a testament to the dedication of Argentum New York to advance excellence in senior living,” Argentum president and CEO James Balda said in a statement. “It takes skill, effective communication and the ability to work effectively with other senior living advocates to achieve this successful result.”

Argentum worked in collaboration with other organizations in the efforts to pass the legislative, including AARP-NY and The Coalition of NYS Alzheimer’s Chapters.

Written by Amy Baxter

Photo: New York state capital