Bills signed into law by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) earlier this month focus on dementia training and background check databases.
S.B. 827 adds dementia training to the continuing education component for physicians and nurses in the state, in an effort to equip them to recognize the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in residents of the state who are in their care. Effective Jan. 1, nurses renewing their licenses will need two contact hours of training or education about diagnosing and treating cognitive or mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, related cognitive impairments and geriatric depression. Doctors applying to renew their licenses may count toward their training requirements two hours of continuing medical education in the aforementioned areas.
“With no cure for Alzheimer’s, it is imperative that we detect the signs of this disease earlier, enabling us to improve the quality of life of those with this disease,” said state Sen. James Maroney (D), who co-chairs the state Aging Committee. “This legislation makes great progress towards ensuring just that,” he added, noting that Connecticut has the seventh oldest population in the country.
The law also authorizes an update of the Connecticut Alzheimer’s Plan to build dementia-capable programs for the 78,000 people living with the disease in Connecticut. Under the law, the executive director of the state Commission on Women, Children and Seniors will convene a working group to determine gaps in implementation of a task force’s recommendations and make recommendations concerning best practices for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. The working group must submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly by Jan. 30.
The governor also signed into law S.B. 832, which requires the state Commission on Women, Children and Seniors to provide by Oct. 1 a portal on its website with links to publicly available databases, as well as the professional licensure verification database maintained by the state Department of Public Health, used for background checks of those who work with the elderly. Additionally, the new law requires that the commission convene a working group to develop strategies to raise public awareness of the availability of such databases to people hiring caregivers for older adults, people with disabilities, or children.
“Elder abuse and criminal action against those with disabilities are unacceptable, and the public should be aware who those perpetrators are in order to protect their family and friends from future act of crime against our most vulnerable populations,” state Sen. Tony Hwang (R) said in April when the state senate passed the bill.
The new law also expands the Department of Public Health’s long-term care background check program to include those who have been convicted of certain crimes against older adults. And the law adds certain crimes to the list of those that would make an individual ineligible to work in a long-term care facility.
Both bills were signed into law July 1.