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Proposed Assisted Living Regulations Would Allow Facilities to Rent Inaccessible Rooms to Persons Who Use Wheelchairs or Walkers
Date:9/15/2008

Consumer coalition calls for quality standards to protect Pennsylvania

families from inadequate regulations

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's proposed assisted living regulations would allow facilities to rent rooms to residents that do not meet current safety standards and are not accessible to persons who use wheelchairs or walkers.

While new assisted living construction would be required to comply with state minimum standards or practices, as well as federal accessibility requirements, existing facilities would be exempt under the Department of Public Welfare's new proposed Assisted Living regulations. Available data from 1999 showed that at any one time no less than 21 percent of Assisted Living Residents rely on wheelchairs and 44 percent of Assisted Living Residents rely on walkers.

"These proposed rules make absolutely no sense," said Robert Meek, managing attorney from the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. "Why would anyone want to jeopardize the safety and care of residents who are elderly or have disabilities? Assisted living is designed for some of our most vulnerable citizens who need to a safe place to call home. Many of them rely on a walker and/or a wheelchair to get around. They shouldn't be shoehorned into a box."

The Pennsylvania Assisted Living Consumer Alliance (PALCA) advocates that these facilities should provide at least 250 square feet of living space, excluding the closets and bathrooms. Other government agencies, including the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, recommend that living units should be no smaller than that size.

PALCA formed this year to ensure that new licensing rules will protect residents who are elderly and who have disabilities. About 50,000 people in Pennsylvania currently live in facilities that may call themselves assisted living facilities. Assisted living has emerged in the past generati
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SOURCE PALCA
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