DES MOINES - Beginning with their next certification, dementia-specific assisted living programs (ALP/Ds) that serve both a general population as well as tenants residing in a memory care unit may be required to file a separate application for each unit in the program. The change is a result of conversations between the Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) and representatives from the Iowa Center for Assisted Living (ICAL) and LeadingAge Iowa regarding a door alarm requirement pertaining to dementia-specific programs.
The associations had requested that the Department grant a variance or draft a change to Iowa Administrative Code section 481—69.32(2), which requires “an operating alarm system shall be connected to each exit door in a dementia-specific program”. It has come to the Department’s attention that several assisted living programs that serve residents in both memory care units and general population units do not have operating alarm systems connected to exit doors in their general population units. These programs have operating alarm systems connected to exit doors in only the memory care units.
After reviewing data on elopements occurring in dementia-specific programs, it was determined that half of the elopements were by tenants residing in general population units. Of the 50 percent of the elopements by tenants residing in memory care units, 19 percent traversed through the general population unit before exiting the programs.
In an effort to provide balance between the interests of safety and autonomy in assisted living programs, any dementia-specific assisted living program that does not wish to install an alarm system on exit doors in the general population unit may dually certify the program. The program may certify its memory care unit as a dementia-specific program and the general population unit as a traditional assisted living program. Dual certification will require the program to file two full application packets – one for each unit. Dually-certified programs should be aware that any time a tenant leaves the memory care unit of the building, even if it is just into the general population part of the building, that will be considered an elopement.
If a dementia-specific assisted living program chooses the dual certification option, it must notify the Department of its decision by Sept. 1, 2018. The notification to DIA applies only to those programs with a certification renewal period of Sept. 1, 2018, or later. These programs will be required to apply for dual certification at the time of its next certification. A dementia-specific assisted living program that does not wish to be dually certified must have an operating alarm system connected to each exit door in the program, including those doors in the general population unit, by no later than Sept. 1, 2018.