Addressing COVID-19 challenges remains a priority for senior living associations, but discussions continue about the best way to ensure quality in communities after the American National Standards Institute’s Executive Standards Council ruled to uphold Argentum’s application to be an accredited developer of industry standards.

The decision came weeks after a Feb. 18 hearing about the matter that was scheduled due to an appeal by the National Center for Assisted Living, LeadingAge and the American Seniors Housing Association of the application’s approval. The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living, which counts among its members Argentum, ASHA, LeadingAge and NCAL, argued an appeal separately.

“We were disappointed in the decision and are in conversations with NCAL and ASHA about options going forward,” a LeadingAge spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Argentum applied to ANSI in April 2019 to be a developer of voluntary standards for senior living — independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities — and ANSI approved the application in September. The objecting associations maintained that the standards process needs to be driven by consensus or that the existence of ANSI standards could put senior living organizations at risk of being sued or could lead to federal regulation. Some of the organizations believed that association-level quality efforts are appropriate alternatives to ANSI standards.

An NCAL spokeswoman said Wednesday the sentiments expressed in a statement issued by NCAL, ASHA and LeadingAge on the day of the hearing remain true. That statement in part called for “a more collaborative relationship” between the four major associations representing senior living providers and said that “when initiatives demonstrate potential to have a widespread effect on the entire profession, it is important that we work together — as well as with all senior living stakeholders — to reach an overwhelming consensus. One association alone should not have full discretion to embark on such an immense effort.”

In a separate statement in mid-February, Argentum President and CEO James Balda said the association was “encouraged by the dialogue we continue to have with our association partners and other stakeholders to identify a collaborative path forward for the development of industry best practices, among other opportunities.”

An Argentum spokeswoman said Wednesday that the organization right now is focused on supporting its members and the industry during the pandemic.

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