Proposed Life Safety Code updates encourage more homelike environments

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Updated fire safety regulations could encourage more home-like healthcare environments while increasing security to safeguard against wandering, according to a proposed rule announced Monday.

The regulatory update floated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would potentially relax provisions regarding equipment and furniture in corridors, cooking facilities and furnishings/decorations.

Specifically, hallway storage of lifts and similar equipment now might be allowed to enable more timely care. Fixed furniture also could be installed to serve as “resting points” and create a “more home-like setting,” the proposal states.

A cooking facility that is “open to the corridor” would be allowed for service areas of 30 beds or fewer, as long as certain range and stovetop requirements are met. These revisions also are intended to facilitate more home-like environments, according to the proposal. The new rule also might allow “combustible décor” treated with flame retardant to be attached to walls and doors.

To reduce risks posed by “individuals who may wander,” certain healthcare facilities might also be allowed to lock interior doors, as long as they meet certain standards. For instance, the locking mechanisms would have to be electrical and release “by independent activation” of smoke detection and sprinkler systems.

The 112-page proposal is based on the 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code from the National Fire Protection Association. It retains many of the current Life Safety Code measures, which are based on the NFPA's standards issued in 2000. The regulations would apply to long-term care facilities, hospices and other healthcare settings, although some rules would not apply to particular provider types. As of press time, CMS had not responded to an inquiry from McKnight's requesting clarification about specific implications for long-term care.

Click here to access the complete proposal. It is scheduled to be published in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register, according to CMS.