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Lawmakers pass bill granting elderly another care option
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ATLANTA—The Georgia House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 178, with a vote of 172 to 1. Presented in the House by State Rep. Ann Purcell (R-Rincon), this legislation establishes the “assisted living community” as a new category of long-term health care provider that will be able to provide an intermediate level of service between that of personal care and nursing homes. This will enable seniors to live in “assisted living homes” as they grow older and require additional care services.

“The needs of the aging community have changed over the last 30 years, and Georgia has not kept pace with allowing care providers to accommodate these needs,” said Rep. Purcell. “This legislation provides Georgia seniors with one more option concerning their personal care. Many older Georgians eventually need some level of assistance as they age, but that does not mean that they need to move to a nursing home. Assisted living communities are the answer for those individuals, and now they will be able to take advantage of the benefits that come with it.”

SB 178 establishes the “assisted living community” as a new category of long-term health care provider in Georgia.  Current law regulates assisted living homes under the legal term “personal care home,” which is a regulatory designation for small establishments that care for a handful of elderly or disabled people in a homelike setting. However, this classification was created prior to the growth of professionally-managed assisted living communities. Current law requires seniors in “personal care homes” to self medicate and to be able to move on their own in an emergency. As a result, maturing seniors often have to relocate to nursing homes that are able to provide these services under law.

SB 178 will allow seniors to age in place. These communities would also be allowed to have medication aides on staff, which is prohibited in personal care homes. Residents who need help getting around in an emergency would also be allowed to remain in assisted living, as long as there is enough staff to see that the residents remain safe.

SB 178 is supported by the Assisted Living Federation of America and its state affiliate, Georgia ALFA, as well as AARP Georgia, Alzheimer’s Association - Georgia Chapter, Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE), Aging Services of Georgia Council on Aging, Assisted Living Association of Georgia, Georgia Association of Community Care Providers, and the Georgia Health Care Association, among others.

Rep. Purcell represents District 159, which includes portions of Chatham and Effingham counties. She was re-elected into the House of Representatives in 2009, and currently serves as Chairman of the Human Relations and Aging Committee, and Vice Chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee. She also serves as a mem  ber of the Appropriations, Education, Health and Human Services, and Economic Development and Tourism committees.