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Memory Care Fact Sheet

  • Memory Care standards were introduced for the Nursing Care Center Accreditation program in 2014, and a Memory Care Certification program was established for other types of organizations that provide these services and opt to obtain certification.

Memory Care Accreditation Requirements

The Memory Care accreditation requirements are applicable to all currently accredited nursing care centers, addressing critical quality and safety issues for nursing home patients and residents with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Research shows that approximately 68% of patients or residents in nursing homes have some degree of cognitive impairment. The new requirements will help nursing care centers enable patients and residents with dementia to function at the highest level possible, for as long as possible.

Nursing Care Center accreditation standards for memory care address five key areas:

  • Care coordination: Staff collaboratively assess, plan, and provide care that is consistent with current advances in dementia care practices.
  • Staff knowledge and competency: Staff have the qualifications, skills, training, and education to assess and provide care for a patient or resident population with memory impairment.
  • Activity programming based on abilities: Staff provide activities that match the patient’s or resident’s cognitive ability, memory, attention span, language, reasoning ability, and physical function.
  • Behavior management: The organization emphasizes the use of nonpharmacological interventions as an alternative to antipsychotic medications.
  • Safe and supportive physical environment: The organization modifies the physical environment to promote safety and minimize confusion and overstimulation.

Optional Memory Care Certification

Memory Care Certification requirements build upon the Nursing Care Center accreditation requirements and recognize organizations that demonstrate advanced competency in dementia care services. To be eligible for Memory Care Certification, The Joint Commission requires organizations to have an organized approach to the care, treatment and services provided to the special patient population. A distinct memory care unit is not required.

Key certification requirements include:

  • Specialized care and service programming centered around a patient or resident’s unique needs, preferences, abilities and interests, that are led by a qualified individual experienced and trained in the care of patients or residents with dementia.
  • Advanced staff training and demonstrated competence in current best practices in dementia care.
  • Engaging mealtime, social and recreational experiences designed for patients or residents with dementia that include families and opportunities for intergenerational activities.
  • Provision of a safe, functional environment that minimizes noise and confusing visual stimuli for patients and residents with dementia.
  • An organizational learning culture demonstrated by nursing home participation in activities sponsored by a national organization relating to dementia care.
  • Availability of support groups for family members of patients or residents with dementia.

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