Argentum unveils 12 community standards

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Editor's note, January 2016: The standards discussed in this article are now viewable on the Argentum website.

Argentum, formerly known as the Assisted Living Federation of America, has unveiled 12 standards that, beginning in January, its independent living, assisted living and memory care community members will be asked to meet.

The standards are designed to complement, not replace, state laws and regulations governing the operation of senior living communities. Argentum expects that the list will change, contract or expand as necessary in the future, to reflect industry trends.

Argentum publicly announced efforts under way to develop the standards in 2014. The matter was on the agenda of the group's first Chief Executive Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, earlier this month, Argentum President and CEO James Balda told McKnight's Senior Living. The group hosted about 60 executives at the invitation-only event, he said, including the Argentum Board of Directors and members of the organization's executive advisory board. The board of directors ultimately approved the standards there.

The 12 standards of phase one:

  • Consumer disclosure — Providers will make available a consumer-friendly disclosure document to prospective residents.

  • Resident rights — Providers will, to the extent possible and appropriate, support resident rights of choice, independence, dignity and privacy.

  • Resident-centered care — Residents and their families should have an active role in determining the services they receive.

  • Infrastructure — Communities will be designed to enhance resident safety.

  • Staff training and qualifications —Providers will hire staff with the appropriate skills and training to meet resident needs.

  • Programming — Residents will be provided a wide range of activities reflecting their interests.

  • Medication delivery — Providers will have systems in place for the safe delivery and, if applicable, administration of medication.

  • Quality improvement — Providers will embrace quality assessment and improvement in their operations, to continuously improve the quality of care and quality of life for their residents.

  • Dining — Communities will offer nutritious dining options reflecting resident dietary needs and choices.

  • Regulatory compliance and enforcement — Operators will adhere to all applicable state laws and regulations.

  • Workforce — Providers will treat their employees with respect and offer them an equal opportunity for career advancement.

  • Memory care — Communities caring for residents with cognitive impairments will be staffed and designed to meet these residents' unique needs.

The standards will be publicly viewable online in January, at which time Argentum will be seeking feedback. “We'll be asking communities to review the standards and self-attest as to whether or not they meet those standards,” Balda said, adding that non-member providers are welcome to participate as well.

“Moving forward in the future phases, the standards themselves may become a little bit stronger,” he continued. And the testing will become more stringent.

At some point, Argentum will begin collecting data to help evaluate whether communities have meet the standards, but a timeframe has not been announced. “We felt it was important to start with a foundational level set of standards that most every professionally managed operator could agree to,” Balda said. The organization slowly will move to an evaluation process that is more “prescriptive,” he added.

Argentum members that conform to the standards will be able to display an Argentum Quality in Senior Living plaque. Argentum considered tying compliance with the standards to Argentum membership, but the organization decided against that approach, Argentum Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Bersani told McKnight's Senior Living.

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