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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

on to house people who are not so sick that they require a nursing home. However, residents generally need more help with bathing, dressing, medication management and other basic care needs.

Under proposed rules, residents could wind up living in a space of only 175 square feet. By comparison, hotel rooms average 325 square feet and single bedroom apartments typically include a bedroom between 250 and 500 square feet. Efficiency apartments supported by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency must be at least 400 square feet.

Pennsylvania's proposed assisted living rules also do not address issues concerning older buildings that do not meet current fire or life safety standards. Many of these building were allowed operating licenses years ago and never had to achieve best practice standards for safety or accessibility.

Another short-coming in the proposed regulations is that assisted living facilities could prohibit appropriate service animals from the premises, a violation of federal requirements. Many residents who are blind or who have other disabilities rely on these highly trained animals to help them accomplish basic daily tasks.

"These are not small issues," said Alissa Halperin, Senior Attorney and Deputy Director of Policy Advocacy at the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, the organization leading the efforts of the PA Assisted Living Consumer Alliance (PALCA). "We want to preserve quality of life for residents. They need to feel comfortable and cared for and the current regulations don't guarantee that either will happen."

Accessibility is just one weakness in the draft regulations identified by PALCA. Other areas of concern include ensuring adequate staff and administrator training, access to one's own doctor, a responsive appeals' process and sufficient residents' rights.

The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hear consumers' stories on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 9:30 a.m. in room 418 in the Main Capitol
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SOURCE PALCA
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