Are National Standards on The Horizon for the Senior Living Industry?

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The senior living industry group Argentum has been approved to be the accredited developer of national standards by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  However, as reported by McKnight’s Senior Living, many groups in the senior living space are warning that voluntary standards are not the best approach.

Founded in 1918, ANSI is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S voluntary standards and conformity assessment system.  Their standards and quality systems cover “practically every industry.”  In the April 2019 issue of ANSI’s weekly publication Standards Action, it published the following Developers Application for Accreditation:

Argentum, a new ANSI member, has submitted an application for accreditation as an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer (ASD) and proposed operating procedures for documenting consensus on Argentum- sponsored American National Standards. Argentum’s proposed scope of standards activity is as follows:

Argentum is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Argentum advocates for choice, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all older adults. As part of this mission, Argentum develops and publishes standards for senior living, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and continuing care communities.

 

Although ANSI approved Argentum’s application, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, LeadingAge and American Seniors Housing Association have all filed appeals to reverse this approval. Their main concern with the proposal is the lack of industry-wide consensus and support of all stakeholders. The groups agree that quality initiatives in senior living communities – independent living, assisted living, and memory care – are of utmost importance, but that ANSI standards are not the answer. Regulations of these facilities are currently set by each state.

The introduction of national standards has industry-wide implications. First, the ANSI standards could potentially become the standard of care for purposes of tort litigation. Second, the new standards could complicate compliance since state regulations already exist. Lastly, federal regulations may soon follow despite the notion that such oversight could be avoided through self-regulation.

Excelas continues to monitor developments in this area and the potential impact on our clients. A hearing is scheduled to be held by ANSI’s Executive Standards Council on February 18.

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