By Gina Zimmermann, Executive Director, Nursing Care Center and Assisted Living Community Services, The Joint Commission
In 2023, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, it was estimated that 6.7 million Americans ages 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Additionally, 49% of nursing home residents are believed to have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, while 36% of short-stay (less than 100 days) and 58% of long-stay (more than 100 days) nursing home residents are believed to have these conditions.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alzheimer’s was the fifth-leading cause of death for those 65 and older in 2019.
The data is staggering, making it more important than ever that standards are in place to raise the level of care being provided to these patients so that their loved ones will know they are being given the best quality care.
This month, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, provides the perfect opportunity to spread the word about and discuss Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as highlight The Joint Commission’s Memory Care Certification for Assisted Living Communities (ALCs) that launches on July 1.
The purpose of this specialty certification will be to ensure that ALCs serving residents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are meeting standards that support the delivery of high-quality care in a safe environment.
A crucial collaboration
The Alzheimer’s Association worked with The Joint Commission to develop these standards. During that process, together, we evaluated ongoing scientific issues, standards and performance measures, quality improvement initiatives, provided education programs and presentations, and shared data with the public.
This collaboration is crucial for The Joint Commission, as the Alzheimer’s Association is the nation’s leading voice on dementia and other memory-related issues — and it will help improve care for residents in ALCs that provide memory care services.
The new certification requirements:
- Reflect current evidence-based practices in memory care.
- Align with recommendations and practice guidelines from the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Build on existing requirements for the ALC Accreditation program.
Overall, The Joint Commission’s Memory Care Certification for Assisted Living Communities program helps organizations minimize risk and improve care for patients and residents with all levels of cognitive impairment. The program focuses on:
- Coordination and delivery of specialized care and programming.
- Staff competency and training.
- Safety of the physical environment of care.
- Support services for the families of residents and patients with dementia.
ALCs achieving this certification on or after July 1, will be able to display a certification logo associated with both The Joint Commission and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Learn more about the new certification program by visiting our website.
Gina Zimmermann is the Executive Director for Business Development for Nursing Care Center Services and Assisted Living Community Services. In this role, she oversees the strategic direction and performance of the Nursing Care Center and Assisted Living Community accreditation programs.