State lawmakers debate SNF dementia training bill

Iowa lawmakers and nursing home industry groups faced off earlier this week on a bill that would require dementia training for new employees. More critically, it also would require those employees demonstrate understanding of the training through evaluations, tests or surveys.

House Study Bill 566 would require facilities to provide dementia training to new hires, but would primarily focus on developing ways for facilities to evaluate employees' competency after training, the Des Moines Register reported. Many state facilities already have solid dementia training programs in place, but lack ways to prove employees' skills, the bill's' supporters said during a Monday hearing.

While the state's nursing home industry supports “proper” dementia training, providers are wary of the costs and redundancies the new regulations will pile on top of existing federal regulations, Susan Cameron, a lobbyist for the Iowa Health Care Association, told the Register.

“We don't want to create a situation where our facilities won't take dementia patients,” she said.

The bill's supporters say other states have adopted similar laws, and that little would change for the nursing home industry.

“If you're doing it [providing training], what's the difference between this and what you're doing?” asked state Rep. Dave Heaton (R) at the hearing.