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Problem Solvers help change Virginia assisted living facility regulations

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Board of Social Services approved several new regulations for Assisted Living Facilities in the Commonwealth on Wednesday afternoon.

Among the new requirements, there must be at least two direct care staff members awake and on duty when there are 20 or fewer residents present in a special care unit, and for every additional 10 residents, or portion thereof, there must be at least one more direct care staff member awake and on duty in the unit.

Currently, the state only requires two direct care staff members awake and on duty in a special care unit, no matter the number of residents.

CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit’s series into issues at assisted living facilities in Virginia highlighted staffing concerns raised by people with loved ones in assisted living communities, and former employees of assisted living facilities.

Carol Garbo, who has been advocating for changes, sent CBS 6 the following statement in an email.

“Even though it’s not exactly what we wanted regarding adequate staffing, it is a step in the right direction. We’re still concerned about the supervision of the residents when one or more resident requires two staff members to assist with bathing, toileting, transferring, etc. Who’s watching the other residents?  We’re also hoping the DSS has enough inspectors to enforce these new regs. Inspections have to be unannounced and thorough if these regs are going to work.”

Judy Hackler, executive director of VA Assisted Living Association, released a statement Wednesday about the new regulations.

“The Virginia Assisted Living Association supports the approval of the proposed changes to the Standards for Licensed Assisted Living Facilities by the Virginia State Board of Social Services. The proposed changes will continue to strengthen the staffing level requirements and staff training requirements for licensed assisted living communities in order to continue to enhance the quality of care for residents in Virginia.”

The changes approved by the board will now proceed on the regulatory change process towards the Governor’s desk for his final approval.

Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved a bill that would double the fines the Virginia Department of Social Services could assess against an assisted living facility.

The bill will increase the maximum amount of fines DSS can impose on a facility from $10,000 every two years, to $10,000 every year.

That legislation will now head to Governor McAuliffe for final approval before becoming law.

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