AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas lawmakers are considering legislation to require more training for assisted-living facility employees who care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) presented House Bill 1673 to the Texas House Committee on Human Services Monday. The bill would require every staff member who interacts with residents in an assisted living facility to receive four hours of training about Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Staff would also have to pass an exam proving they understand the delicate care patients with these diseases require.
Those who have watched dementia impact their family say the additional requirements are crucial.
“My mom had younger-onset Alzheimer’s,” Houstonian Mike McGuff said. He testified on the bill Monday, recalling his experience watching his mom develop the disease when she was just 53 years old. “I had her in an assisted living facility, and I saw then we had issues with care. You can spend a lot of money at these places, and there’s a lot of promises… It’s a very difficult environment.”
McGuff said his mother was injured while in the care of her nursing home. He believes poor oversight and undertrained staff led to her black eye.
“It was definitely a rough road, and I saw her deteriorate very quickly,” he said. “It still haunts me to this day.”
Advocates explained patients with dementia can exhibit behavioral issues necessitating special care.
“More than 40 percent of residents in assisted-living facilities have dementia, Texas Public Policy Director for the Alzheimer’s Association Melissa Sanchez said. “It’s critical that paid caregivers in assisted living facilities have appropriate and adequate training on how to interact, communicate, deescalate situations.”
House Bill 1673 would require assisted-living facilities to either include the additional four hours of training within their preexisting programs or bear the cost of the additional training themselves.
Rep. Capriglione said some nursing facilities have pushed against the bill, citing the costs they would incur. He argued the benefits outweigh the costs.
“That’s a very small price to pay to make sure that our friends, our families, our loved ones are taken care of, because the risks are too too big and too expensive,” he said. “There has been a little bit of pushback from nursing homes — and I’ll say, not the good ones, but some who want to go and basically say ‘we don’t need, this is unnecessary.’ But I will tell you, it is necessary.”
The bill was left pending in the Human Services Committee on Monday.
On Tuesday, Alzheimer’s advocates met at the Texas Capitol for their organization’s advocacy day. While some of them have already watched family members endure poor conditions in their care facilities, they say they will advocate for the future.
“I’m not that far from when my mom was diagnosed. So that’s always in the back of my mind,” McGuff said. “How many years do I have? Am I going to get it? Am I going to suffer the same fate? So I’ve got to try to do everything I can right now to at least help someone else deal with it.”