Facilities misleading public about dementia care services, review claims

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include statements from William Bogdanovich, board chair of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association. 

Nearly 60% of Massachusetts nursing homes that say they can handle residents with dementia are misleading the public about the extent of their services, according to a review by the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Many of the state's nursing homes that list dementia care were found during inspections to not meet state requirements, the association said. Its review found 83 of those facilities met the requirements, but more than 100 homes that claimed to have specialized care did not.

Massachusetts has struggled with a lack of dementia care services, which led the state to implement new rules in 2014. All 414 long-term care facilities in the state were to provide specific dementia-care training for their workers by last November. They also were required to have specialized activities and safety measures for residents with dementia.

State Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) said the Department of Public Health might not have enough inspectors to monitor all of the facilities. The state faced similar criticism in February.

Officials at the Department of Public Health have not seen the association's review, they told The Boston Globe on Tuesday.

William Bogdanovich, board chair of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association and CEO of Broad Reach Healthcare, told McKnight's the Globe's report could create "confusion" about the state's dementia care regulations. According to Bogdanovich, the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire's review didn't take into account the Department of Public Health's regulations, which are relative to dementia care units in nursing homes.

"From what we read in the article in the Globe it appears that the study went out and looked at whether the facility took care of people with dementia, not whether they had a unit," Bogdanovich said. "If they didn't match up that they were also disclosing a dementia special care unit, it somehow turned into a failure to comply with regulation."

Bogdanovich said his organization has requested to see the Alzheimer's Association research report, but has not yet received it.