Report: Assisted living services, especially nurse levels, vary widely

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The level of care at assisted living facilities varies widely, with some facilities providing care on par with nursing homes and others offering minimal care, according to a new study released by the Senior Citizens Law Center.

A total of 39 states authorize eviction when an assisted living facility's services do not meet a resident's needs, the report said. Also, only half of the states require assisted living facilities to employ or contract with a nurse and in most of these cases, the nurse is rarely at the facility. Only 19 states have hourly minimums for the training of direct-care workers, according to the report.

"The report demonstrates that 'assisted living' means very different things from state to state," said NSCLC attorney Eric Carlson. "Some facilities provide health care that is comparable to that available in nursing homes. Other assisted living facilities are glorified board and care homes, with little service beyond three daily meals and some supervision."

While only licensed or registered nurses can administer medication in nursing homes, in 28 states assisted living employees with limited training can give medication, the report said. Also, only 18 states have minimum staffing ratios. California requires during the late-night shift at least one awake employee for a facility with up to 100 residents, with at least one other employee capable of arriving at the facility within 10 minutes.

The report, "Critical Issues in Assisted Living: Who's In, Who's Out, and Who's Providing the Care," can be found at: "http://www.nsclc.org/news/05/05/ALreport.htm"