By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
Last week, I had the opportunity to join nearly 150 members of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA.org) in advocating for assisted living on Capitol Hill.
We met with members of Congress and their staff members, talking about what assisted living is; how assisted living differs from institutionalized nursing home care; and how assisted living is benefitting hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families across the United States.
Mike Evenson of Crimson Pointe in Rockford, Illinois, and I met with Patrick Ptak, legislative staff member for U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who represents the 16th Congressional District in Illinois. Steve Levy of Senior Lifestyle Corp., Maegan Bouc of National Research Corp., and I met with Stu Megaw, legislative staff member for l U.S. Rep. William Enyart, who represents the 12th Congressional District in Illinois.
We at BMA manage six assisted living communities that are located in the 16th Congressional District and five communities that are located in the 12th Congressional District, as follows:
16th Congressional District
Heritage Woods of Belvidere
Heritage Woods of DeKalb
Heritage Woods of Dwight
Heritage Woods of Ottawa
Heritage Woods of Rockford
Heritage Woods of Watseka
12th Congressional District
Cambridge House of O’Fallon
Cambridge House of Swansea
Heritage Woods of Benton
Heritage Woods of Mt. Vernon
Prairie Living at Chautauqua in Carbondale
Here a few key points that we stressed:
Assisted living provides a wonderful residential living alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home for individuals who need some help to maintain their independence but do not require skilled nursing care.
Assisted living communities combine apartment-style housing with the availability of personal assistance, help with medications, and a variety of convenience and support services such as three daily meals, housekeeping and laundry. Trained staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents also benefit from all of the opportunities that are available to socialize with their neighbors and participate in a variety of activities.
Assisted living is guided by a philosophy of care that embraces four key principles – Choice, Independence, Dignity and Quality of Life.
Assisted living residents are highly satisfied. Recent surveys indicate that 94% of assisted living residents are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of life in their assisted living community; 99% say they feel safe or very safe in their community; and 91% say they are safer living in an assisted living community than they would be living on their own.
Assisted living is a much more affordable option than living in a nursing home. As of last year, the cost for a private apartment in assisted living was nearly 53% less than for a private room in a nursing home, according to information in the Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs that was published in November 2012 by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
2012 Average Cost
|Private Apartment in Assisted Living||$3,550||$42,600|
|Private Room in Nursing Home||$7,543||$90,520|
We support strong oversight of assisted living at the state level. Currently, assisted living communities are licensed and regulated at the state level in all 50 states. The regulations and oversight should balance resident safety with resident choice, dignity, independence and quality of life. Strong state regulations should support informed choice, resident rights, quality staffing, appropriate building codes and standards, and zero tolerance for elder abuse.
If a few changes are required in a few states to strengthen regulations and enforcement procedures, our thinking is to push for those states to make the needed changes rather than for the federal government to take on oversight of assisted living, as has been proposed from time-to-time.
Adding federal regulations on top of already existing state regulations would create a number of drawbacks:
Federal regulations would create a one-size-fits-all regulatory environment for a constituency that is not one size. Seniors are all different and have different needs and desires. What might work in California or New York might not be appropriate for Illinois.
Federal regulatory requirements would increase the cost of care without any benefit of an increased quality of care or of life.
Federal regulations would reduce resident choice, which is one of the cornerstones of assisted living and one of the reasons why assisted living has become such a popular option.
Changing technology, changes to our health care delivery system and the aging of Baby Boomers will have an impact on the “next generation” of assisted living. States are much more likely to be able to respond swiftly to a changing world and consumer.
For more information on and pictures of the 2013 ALFA Fly-In, go to http://www.alfa.org/News/3436/Advocates-Tell-Congress-the-Story-of-Assisted-Living
What are your thoughts?
All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“BMA Management, Ltd. is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.