, Salem, MA


May 5, 2011

Letter: Topsfield case shows state must upgrade regs for dementia care

To the editor:

The report made public last week regarding the abuse of at least a dozen residents at a nursing home in Topsfield, some of whom apparently have dementia, once again raises the question: Why doesn't Massachusetts have adequate regulations and training for dementia care?

Its members comprise one of the most vulnerable populations among nursing home residents, yet the protections to keep them safe are sorely lacking.

Our hearts go out to the many families who had loved ones who were victimized. And to the victims, we say, "We need to do a better job for you."

We know that most direct care workers in nursing homes are honest, hardworking and provide quality care. However, bad care does happen, and vulnerable residents need assurances that someone will protect them.

For the past six years, the Alzheimer's Association has proposed that Massachusetts enact legislation that would require minimum standards of care and training for staff in nursing home's dementia special care units. In addition, the Alzheimer's Association has proposed that there be minimum dementia training requirements for all direct care staff working in nursing homes. Families cannot wait any longer for protection from care that can range from careless disregard to downright criminal.

The Executive Office of Elder Affairs is co-chairing a steering committee with the Alzheimer's Association to create an Alzheimer's State Plan that addresses wide-ranging aspects of diagnosis, education, safety, care and support. The finished plan is expected to call for the establishment of minimum standards for dementia care in the state's nursing homes.

Massachusetts is one of only six states in the nation with no regulatory oversight of specialized dementia care in nursing homes. What is even more illogical is that Massachusetts has enacted special protections for dementia care in assisted living and is in the process of developing training and practice requirements for home health aides caring for people with dementia. Why are nursing home residents — like those in Topsfield — left to fend for themselves?

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate