Press Release – Last week’s U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s hearing on assisted living shone a national spotlight on the continued challenges facing the industry.
Staffing concerns, rising costs, and resident safety were among the issues brought to light by Senate leadership and witness testimony.
As more families seek the services of assisted living — today serving nearly one million Americans in more than 30,000 communities across the nation — it is more important than ever that we enact feasible solutions to improve care and outcomes for people requiring assisted living care.
Since its creation in 2003 in response to the Special Committee’s first hearing on assisted living, the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL) has served as a unique national collaborative of diverse organizations working together to promote excellence in assisted living. In 2023, CEAL joined with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to advance the well-being of the people who live and work in assisted living through research, practice, and policy.
For 20 years, CEAL — now CEAL@UNC — has promoted research to inform assisted living practice; developed and disseminated educational and training resources for assisted living communities and their staff; and advocated for necessary policy changes at the state and federal levels.
Our statement for the Congressional Record submitted to the special committee outlined six interrelated topics that are central to understanding assisted living, ranging from transparency to pay structure to service provision and staff quality.
These topics guided numerous feasible actions that CEAL@UNC suggests to advance better care and outcomes for residents, families, and staff.
Recommendations for Improved Care and Outcome in Assisted Living
Meet needs for information and person-centered care:
- Promote consumer education using common definitions and providing relevant details;
- Endorse standardized reporting; and
- Decouple services from housing to promote choice.
Increase access and equity:
- Expand Medicaid coverage;
- Diversify housing options and modifying services; and
- Offer tax incentives and public subsidies to owners and operators who open the door to the forgotten middle market.
Improve the quality of care and outcomes:
- Adopt regulations that encourage quality improvement;
- Promote quality initiatives by implementing and evaluating promising programs, processes and measures; and
- Adhere to consensus recommendations for medical and mental health care.
Provide more sufficient staffing:
- Explore guidance and standards for staff training, supervision, and compensation;
- Adopt supportive immigration policies;
- Establish acuity-based staffing; and
- Provide funds to support family involvement in care.
CEAL@UNC is ready to partner and collaborate with special committee members, other members of Congress, assisted living providers and staff, and other interested parties to ensure that the best possible care is provided to those in assisted living. Interested parties are encouraged to contact CEAL@UNC through our website or by email at CEAL@office.unc.edu.