A bill introduced in the Ohio Senate would define memory care units within assisted living communities.

In a press release, state Sen. Capri S. Cafaro said she introduced the dementia-related provisions of S.B. 283 “so loved ones can feel confident that their spouses, parents, brothers, and sisters are getting specialized care.” Under the bill:

  • Residents must have written cognitive preadmission screening in collaboration with a physician or a geriatric assessment team within 72 hours before admission to a secure memory care unit.
  • Residents must be assessed annually for the continuing need for the secured dementia care unit.
  • Resident–community contracts must list the services provided in the dementia care unit as well as admission and discharge criteria, change in condition policies, special programming and costs and fees.
  • Communities must offer the following types of activities at least weekly: gross motor activities, such as dancing, stretching and other exercise; self-care activities, such as personal hygiene; social activities, such as games, music and holiday and seasonal celebrations; crafts, such as sewing, decorations and pictures; sensory and memory enhancement activities, such as review of current events, movies, storytelling, picture albums, cooking, pet therapy and reminiscing; and outdoor activities, as weather permits, such as walking, gardening and field trips.

Current assisted living communities that call themselves memory care units would have one year to prove compliance to the Ohio Department of Health, which would determine the penalty for noncompliance. “The monetary penalty shall not be greater than $5,000 per bed in the memory care unit,” according to Cafaro’s press release. “However, they can be given up to three additional months to comply. If after the three additional months there is still no compliance, they cannot be considered a memory care unit and are penalized.”

Also under S.B. 283, assisted living communities could face alternative sanctions “for offenses that may or do cause harm for the residents of the facility.” Cafaro said that this provision is meant to align assisted living penalties with those assessed to other full-time care facilities.

S.B. 283 would require the state health department to prohibit affected communities from accepting new residents and to impose a fine of $50 to $3,000 per resident for every day the offense is not corrected. Affected communities would be randomly inspected at least once a year; the bill provides a mechanism for funding to hire additional inspectors.