With most pandemic restrictions lifting this coming weekend in Massachusetts and the state’s state of emergency ending June 15, a senior living association is advocating for the continuance of a pandemic practice related to the scope of practice for its assisted living nurses.
The Massachusetts Assisted Living Association is lobbying to continue the pandemic practice of allowing nurses in assisted living to provide a narrow scope of health services to residents. The service offers greater choice to families and supports public health, Massachusetts Assisted Living Association President and CEO Brian Doherty told WWLP Channel 22 News in Boston. MASS–ALA is a state partner of Argentum.
“We are deeply concerned that, once the state of emergency is lifted, residents who have been receiving this care in-house — often at no additional charge — will find their care plan disrupted,” Doherty told the news outlet. “Allowing nurses to use their training to provide a narrow scope of services offers greater choice to families and supports public health. We hope everyone can agree that allowing families this continued option is a common-sense measure.”
Senate Bill 409, authorizing “common sense health services in assisted living,” would allow assisted living communities to provide basic health services to residents as long as staff have access to a licensed practice nurse or registered nurse for consultation. Those basic health services include injections, application or replacement of simple non-sterile dressings, oxygen management, and application of ointments or drops.
The proposed legislation, referred to the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs in the Massachusetts Legislature, appoints the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to provide oversight of basic health services in assisted living and may impose an annual fee on participating communities.
Effective May 20, most of the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and the state face covering order was rescinded and replaced with a face covering advisory, consistent with updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks remain mandatory in healthcare facilities and congregate care settings, however, including assisted living communities.
Gov. Charlie Baker said that the state of emergency would end on June 15 because the commonwealth leads the nation in COVID-19 vaccination among adult residents, with 75% of adults having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.