Health and Senior Services Commissioner Announces Innovative Partnership
To Improve Quality in Assisted Living Residences
(Princeton) Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd joined the Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ) today to announce a new partnership to enhance quality and consumer information about assisted living residences in New Jersey.
This four-year pilot program, entitled Advanced Standing, will offer a designation by the Health Care Association of New Jersey Foundation, which verifies that an assisted living facility has satisfied all state licensing regulations and also meets quality benchmarks. Commissioner O'Dowd made this announcement following a tour of Brandywine Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Princeton.
"This new pilot program is another step forward in ensuring our residents receive quality care," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "The Advanced Standing program will expand oversight of assisted living facilities and for the first time collect quality data on these facilities."
Advanced Standing is a voluntary program that assisted living facilities choose to participate in. Assisted living facilities are a special combination of housing, personalized support services designed to accommodate those who need help with the activities of daily living and some health care services. There are 215 assisted living facilities in New Jersey. Forty HCANJ member facilities have already expressed interest in participating in the Advanced Standing program.
The Department will also be represented on the Peer Review Panel for the program, which will choose the quality indicators that will be reported by facilities participating in the Advanced Standing Program.
"This partnership will provide more information to consumers about the quality of assisted living providers to empower them in making decisions," added O'Dowd. "This program also represents a change in culture for state government-more often we are in the position of ensuring minimum standards, which are enforced with penalties and fines. But in this case, we are asking providers to go beyond the minimum-to strive for excellence and be awarded with a special designation."
Within this pilot project, the Department would maintain full State oversight of assisted living services and facilities. It will continue to conduct complaint investigations for all facilities, but limit routine inspections to facilities without Advanced Standing. In addition, the Department will randomly conduct unannounced surveys at up to 25 percent of facilities with Advanced Standing in the first year of the project and up to 10 percent each year after to validate surveys performed through this pilot. Until the launch of this pilot, the Department was inspecting assisted living facilities every two years.
"Assisted Living providers in New Jersey have long subscribed to the concept of quality care in a setting that provides the highest possible quality of life," said Paul R. Langevin, Jr., President of the Health Care Association of New Jersey. "The Advanced Standing program will give them an opportunity to prove the standards of excellence they have set for themselves."
The Advanced Standing status will help consumers choose facilities by also providing information on programs offered at participating assisted livings.
Potential residents and their families can ask to see a documentation that indicates the facility has been given an Advanced Standing status. The Department also will note on its website what facilities have the Advanced Standing designation.