Recently, CMS announced important life safety regulatory changes that will support the creation of home in long-term care settings. All of these changes have been approved by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and are effective immediately. It is important to note that elder/resident safety and quality of life were held as top priorities throughout the process of revising the regulations. Among the changes are:
• Allowing open kitchens
• Allowing permanent seating groupings in corridors
• Allowing gas fireplaces in common areas
• Increasing the amount of wall space that may be covered by decorations
These changes are the result of three years of collaborative work by a taskforce known as the National Long-Term Care Life Safety Taskforce organized by The Pioneer Network. The taskforce consisted of individuals representing CMS, state survey agencies, provider associations, architects, researchers, culture change and life safety code experts.
The Green House Project was represented on the Taskforce by Robert Jenkens, Director. The stated goal of the group was to remove “unintended barriers to quality of life” found in the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code which is the standard used by CMS to regulate long-term care settings. These barriers came in the form of regulations that prevent the design of homes for elders/residents in certain ways that honor human needs, culture and preferences. Designing homes for the people who will live in them is a philosophy that is fundamental to The Green House model’s foundational principle of “creating home”.
What is “creating home”?
Creating home is a key culture change principle which holds as a top priority that long-term care environments must be viewed first as homes for the people who live in them. This contrasts the traditional medical model philosophy which held that long-term care settings were to be designed for the efficient delivery of care with little regard for the humanity and individuality of those who live and work there.
Better for everyone
These recent improvements to life safety code will better equip long-term care providers to successfully create home for the elders/residents they care for. While the new regulations are less prescriptive and more flexible, they do not compromise safety. Having increased flexibility to create homes that honor individuality, culture and meaningful engagement equips providers with the ability to accomplish more for the hard work they do and improve the quality of live for elders/residents in the process.