Mass Senior Care’s priority legislation to allow certified medication aides in nursing facilities was the subject of a hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Health this Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1344, An Act Relative to Certified Medication Aides would allow skilled nursing facilities to hire specially trained, certified medication aides to dispense oral, non-narcotic medications to nursing facility residents. The proposal would require the Department of Public Health to develop standards for training and competency testing of certified medication aides as well as continuing educational requirements. The bill’s primary sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), is a staunch advocate for nursing facility care and led a statewide tour of nursing facilities for the Massachusetts Republican Caucus over the summer.
Tara Gregorio, Mass Senior Care’s President, presented testimony in strong support of the legislation stating, “The certified medication aide position would be an important career ladder program, creating a new intermediary position that would enable a CNA to gain additional training, skills and responsibilities, and facilitate career growth and earning potential. In addition, certified medication aides would provide immediate relief to overburdened RNs and LPNs who are the only personnel allowed to administer medications in Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities. Mass Senior Care believes the introduction of certified medication aides in skilled nursing facilities would allow for a more efficient use of licensed nursing staff, with an ultimate outcome to improve the overall quality and safety of resident care, as well as staff satisfaction.”
In addition, Tina Osborn, Director of Clinical Operations at Genesis HealthCare, New England Division and Frank Romano, President of Essex Group Management testified in support SB1344. Osborn and Romano’s testimony highlighted the successful use of medication aides in at least 35 other states. Medication aides allow nurses to spend more time on resident clinical assessments, treatments and other necessary skilled nursing services. Their testimony also notes all New England states except for Massachusetts are using specially trained medication technicians in long term care and how this legislation could help address the growing workforce crisis impacting long term care providers.