Emergency Button Concept. Portrait of serious senior lady holding personal alarm button, sitting on the at home alone. Older female looking at medical alert, selective focus
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A proposed compromise bill supported by senior living groups, as well as other stakeholders, would allow staffing flexibilities in assisted living settings without changing staffing ratios.

HB 1335 doesn’t change staffing ratios, but for the first time, it recognizes medical emergency alert devices in Georgia state law and the Department of Community Health rules. The proposed bill alleviates some concerns senior living provider groups had with “stringent language” inserted into HB 987, which would have imposed staffing, training and financial reporting requirements on the state’s assisted living and memory care communities, as well as personal care homes.  

Seth Daniels, Georgia Senior Living Association director of government affairs, told McKnight’s Senior Living that HB 1335 is written broadly and does not target any specific type of provider, but it provides a bit of flexibility for where senior living communities can deploy staff members. 

The current rule in effect is prescriptive about the number of staff members required on occupied floors, Daniels said. Last month, the Georgia Department of Community Health chose to abandon a senior living industry-supported proposed rule change in response to those rule changes inserted into HB 987. Senior living groups said the last-minute changes inserted into HB 987 would have created significant operational inefficiencies.

Rather than tie staff to a specific floor, HB 1335 would provide more freedom to move staff members around in a building, depending on need, if the community has an approved alert device system. At least two staff members would need to be in a community at all times and would have to be available to respond to alerts triggered by resident wearable devices. The bill also would allow certified medication aides to work in both memory care and non-memory care areas of a community. 

Daniels called HB 1335 a compromise that has been years in the making and was developed during a collaborative effort with the Alzheimer’s Association and other provider organizations and advocates.

“Providers, legislators, a state agency and aging advocates have been working together on House Bill 1335, and the result is a bill that provides for staffing flexibilities and protections for residents,” LeadingAge Georgia President and CEO Ginny Helms told McKnight’s Senior Living. “It’s great that all parties came together and worked out a bill that addresses concerns of providers, as well as advocates — all of whom are focusing on quality of care for older adults.”

The Georgia Health Care Association / Georgia Center for Assisted Living told McKnight’s Senior Living that the Peach State and the nation continue to grapple with a highly constrained healthcare workforce.

“GHCA is supportive of legislation that embraces technology and innovation to meet the dynamic needs of Georgia’s elders amidst a rapidly aging population and increasing prevalence of dementia and related diagnoses,” Director of Communications Devon Barill said.