Alzheimer’s is the third leading cause of death in California. Currently 650,000 residents are living with Alzheimer’s, more than any other state in the country. That means that there are 1.6 million Californian spouses, children, and relatives who provide unpaid help to a loved one. Thankfully, we have advocates for Alzheimer’s and dementia in general to ensure that these 650,000 people along with their family caregivers get their voices heard. According to the National Association of Social Workers as of last year, “Governor Jerry Brown heard from more than 1200 Alzheimer’s Association advocates who sent strong, personal letters urging him to sign Senate Bill 449 (Monning) into law”. It is these 1200 individuals who responded to the call to action and have made a tremendous impact on Alzheimer’s care across the state.
Senate Bill 449 ensures that all Certified Nurse Assistant students who are training to work in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted livings get an increase in training. Senator Bill Monning was the one who delivered a “powerful testimony of thousands of Californians” and who pushed this bill forward. In the letters that were sent from Californians all across the state one person wrote from Fresno, “please provide training so that I may receive the care I need as I progress with Alzheimer’s”. This moving testimony along with thousands of others is what got the bill moving forward.
In the bill, it states that, “A skilled nursing or intermediate care facility shall adopt an approved training program that meets standards established by the department”. The bill outlines specific requirements that nursing staff need in order to continue on with their care for the elderly. Two of these requirements specifically pertains to dementia. The nurses must take a training program which has at least sixty classroom hours and, “At least two of the sixty hours of classroom training shall address the special needs of persons with developmental and mental disorders, including intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and mental illness. At least two hours of the sixty hours of classroom training shall address the needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. Along with the sixty hours of classroom training, the nurses must go through with one-hundred hours of supervised clinical practice, and “At least four of the one-hundred hours of supervised clinical training shall address the special needs of persons with developmental and mental disorders, including intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and Parkinson’s disease”. The new requirements in training will ensure that dementia patients will get proper and adequate care from every facility that they visit.
Thanks to Senate Bill 449 dementia patients will receive better care. It was the initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association along with the 1200 advocates who spoke out that made the signing of this bill possible. The California government is constantly working to improve the long-term care needs of dementia patients and their families. Speaking out for what you believe in makes a difference.