New York Expands Role of Aides in Assisted Living, Home Care

Members | January 09, 2017 | by Geralyn Magan

Advanced home health aides working at some assisted living communities in New York will soon be able to administer medications under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late November.

Advanced home health aides (AHHA) working at some assisted living communities in New York will soon be able to administer medications under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late November.

Steve Maag, director of residential communities at LeadingAge, characterized the move as “clearly a positive development for assisted living.”

ABOUT THE LAW

The new law applies to AHHAs employed by “enhanced assisted living residences,” home health agencies, and hospice programs. New York certifies enhanced assisted living residents to care for residents who:

  • Need chronic assistance with transferring, walking, or climbing stairs.
  • Depend on medical equipment.
  • Have chronic unmanaged urinary or bowel incontinence.

The tasks to be performed by AHHAs will include “administering routine or pre-filled medications that are easy to give, such as injections of insulin or epinephrine, as well as other tasks to be defined in regulations,” according to a statement from the New York State Department of Health.

The regulation development process, which will take place over the next 18 months, will be guided by a work group of stakeholders that has already recommended that AHHAs also be permitted to carry out tasks such as administering eye drops and applying topical medications to skin.

AHHAs, who will work under the supervision of a registered nurse, must meet qualifications, training and competency requirements that will be outlined in the forthcoming regulations.

A GROWING TREND

“This is an example of a trend we have seen in different states over the last 5-10 years,” says Maag about the New York legislation. “But until now, it’s been more common in skilled nursing settings. The fact that this legislation is focused on assisted living and home aides is a positive trend, and relatively unusual.”

Research has already shown that using trained aides to administer medications does not increase -- and in some cases actually lowers -- the number of medication errors in care settings, says Maag.

“This approach makes sense because it cuts down on staffing costs, and it broadens the career path for aides,” he says.