Georgia is the statewide association of over 150 key not-for-profit and
other mission-focused organizations dedicated to providing quality
housing, health care, community-based and other related services for
older Georgians. The mission of LeadingAge Georgia is to represent and
promote the common interests of its members through leadership,
advocacy, education and other services in order to enhance each
member's ability to serve older Georgians.
Conversations with Ginny
"Appreciation can change a day, even a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." Margaret Cousins
We had a successful legislative session that wrapped up the last week of April. With ten minutes to go before the session ended at midnight on April 2nd, the medical marijuana access bill was passed. This bill will allow older adults to access to the low THC oil, which will not get anyone high but will help with a number of conditions that come with age including pain, neuropathy, Parkinson's disease, sleep disorders as well as anxiety and agitation common among persons with Alzheimer's disease.
We're told that Governor Brian Kemp worked to bring the House and the Senate together when the Senate was trying to severely limit access to medical marijuana in the Senate version of the bill. Please contact Governor Kemp and thank him for his work in helping bring the House and Senate together for the passing of the bill and please ask him to sign the bill. You can email the Governor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LeadingAge Georgia worked hard to help get the medical marijuana access bill passed. We searched diligently for research findings in journal articles that prove the medical benefits for older adults and provided them to the legislators along with letters of support from researchers and physicians. We learned of a small but powerful study at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale where these trail blazers worked with residents to try medical marijuana. They reported that the residents had less pain, felt better and left their rooms to engage in activities. We provided a journal article published about the study as well as a letter from their medical director who led the initiative. We learned that the Hebrew Home was guided in their efforts by one of the world's lead researchers, Michael Dor, MD, the Cannabis Senior Medical Advisor of the Israeli Ministry of Health. We were fortunate to be briefed by Dr. Dor who indicated that in their experience of treating 38,000 individuals they found efficacy of cannabis products for a host of conditions. We learned that the University of Georgia conducted a study and found that states that have medical marijuana dispensaries have had significant decreases in opioid use. They too were helpful in providing a letter of support for our efforts on the bill.
Ginny Helms and Medical Marijuana bill sponsor Representative Micah Gravley
The most powerful opponent of the medical marijuana bill was the Sheriff's Association who had a strong hold on legislators with their message that allowing the legalization of medical marijuana could lead to future legislation that would allow recreational marijuana.
In an effort to bring home the message that research findings should drive the policy regarding medical marijuana access, we brought in Larry Tune, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist and neurologist at Emory at Wesley Woods to testify at a senate hearing. He told them that he had reviewed research findings in depth and that "the science is in" that medical marijuana has efficacy in treating a number of conditions that older adults live with and it is a safe alternative to both opioids and antipsychotics. Robert Bowles, a retired pharmacist and long-time friend to LeadingAge Georgia testified before the senate and said that individuals living with Lewy Body disease across the nation have told him that the medical marijuana eases the anxiety he experiences daily – like when trying to do something simple like ordering a hamburger at a fast food restaurant and an impatient server tries to hurry him. Senator John Kennedy of Macon said that Robert was the most compelling person he heard from throughout the session.
At the end of the day, the bill passed. Now, we need to say thank you to the leaders who worked hard and brilliantly to pass the medical marijuana access bill. On the House side, we need to thank the lead bill sponsor Representative Micah Gravley who was in incredible leader for the bill as well as the other bill sponsors. Please write a note of thanks or even an email to him as well as to other bill sponsors Representatives Mark Newton, Alan Powell, Calvin Smyre, David Clark and Scott turner as well as the House Speaker David Ralston who went to bat for the bill. Click HERE to get the contact information for these leaders.
Please also send a note of thanks to Senator Matt Brass, the sponsor of the bill in the senate. His contact information is HERE.
Please thank your representative and senator if they voted in favor of the bill. To see how your state representative voted click HERE and to see how your state senator voted click HERE. For a copy of the bill click HERE.
We were very fortunate that Senator Jack Hill, Chair of Appropriations for the Senate, Senator Dean Burke, Chair of the Health and Human Services Sub-Committee for the Senate and Representative Terry England Chair of Appropriations for the House appropriated funding to support nursing homes caring for persons with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. We have members whose mission is to serve individuals living with dementia and the $2.19 million increase will help with the cost of care. Please take time and write a note of thanks or send an email to these leaders. Click on their name for contact information: Senator Jack Hill; Senator Dean Burkem and Representative England.
We have legislators to thank for passing House Bill 374 which will allow med techs to administer liquid morphine to residents of assisted living who are on Hospice care. The sponsors are Representatives John LaHood, Sharon Cooper and Jessee Petrea and Senator Dean Burke. Click HERE to thank the representatives and HERE to thank Senator Burke.
For a copy of the bill, click HERE.
Finally, we need to thank the representatives and senators who voted for the name change in the Georgia Statute from Continuing Care Retirement Community to Life Plan Community. The bill sponsors include: Representative Vance Smith, Richard Smith, Lee Hawkins and Mickey Stephens as well as Senator Bill Cowsert. For a copy of the bill click HERE.
Personally, I am very grateful to our LeadingAge Georgia board who allowed us to engage in these issues. It was quite bold of our board to allow us to have a front and center role on the medical marijuana access bill. I am also grateful to all of our members who took the time to contact legislators this session. A special thanks to our LeadingAge Georgia public policy co-chairs Tom Rockenbach and Terry Barcroft who provided outstanding guidance throughout the session including 7:30 am weekly calls. Hats off too to our lobbyists Tom Bauer and Nancy Pitra who went above and beyond lobbying for our initiatives. Thank you for working together for the greater good of older Georgians.
Senior Housing Now Rally
Join LeadingAge on May 8, 2019, for the Senior Housing NOW rally!
On May 8, 2019, the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol will come alive with our voices to support older adults and affordable housing.
Speakers will include Members of Congress, residents, and other supporters.
Make a plan for your community to join us as we fill the Capitol lawn with this simple message: Senior Housing NOW.
Click HERE for information and to RSVP
Quality Metrics in BPCI-A: Mastering the Advance Care Plan Webinar
Of the seven quality measures selected by CMS for use in the BPCI-A, the most frequently questioned is how to comply with the Advance Care Plan measure, NQF #0326.
Join the webinar on Tuesday, April 16 to hear from DHG Healthcare subject matter professionals in Clinical Documentation and Coding as they explain the requirements for the measure, and provide practical guidance on implementation in BPCI-A.
Click HERE to register
NADRC Webinar: The Messages We Send: Stigma Toward Persons Living with Dementia and How to End It Stigma around dementia, including Alzheimer's disease—prejudicial attitudes, negative stereotypes, discriminatory behaviors, and social structures biased against persons with dementia—is common. It is also a serious problem. Stigma can harm persons living with dementia and their families by causing them to avoid seeking help managing the disease's demands, or by impeding efforts to improve their lives, such as scientific efforts to discover disease-modifying therapies. In this webinar, discover the types of stigma that can affect persons living with dementia. Learn about the role language plays in stigma around Alzheimer's disease. Acquire everyday strategies for countering stigma through person-centered approaches. Hear from a person with early stage dementia about her experiences related to these issues.
Click HERE for information and registration
Maintaining Regulatory Compliance in Personal Care Homes
If you missed the presentation that Shirley Rodriguez, Director of Personal Care for the Georgia Department of Community Health made for LeadingAge Georgia members, click HERE to take a glance at her Power Point slides from her presentation.
Also of importance is the fact that a number of our members have a personal care home license when their residents may be better served by an assisted living level of care. Some members have not converted due to the fire safety issues required in the assisted living statute. Shirley indicated that as long as a community can meet fire safety needs of residents as determined by the State Fire Marshall, the change to the assisted living level of care is possible.
For information on how to contact the State Fire Marshall click HERE.
Maintaining Regulatory Compliance in Assisted Living Communities
One of the hot topics in regulatory compliance for assisted livings is in-home providers providing services in assisted living settings. The Georgia Department of Community Health expects assisted living homes to meet Rule 111-8-62-.25 which states "Each resident must receive care, and services which must be adequate, appropriate, and in compliance with applicable federal and state regulations." The State wants to ensure that the in-home providers are not providing services which should be provided by the assisted living community. To ensure your community is in compliance, you'll want to make sure that in-home providers are providing services other than those that are to be provided by the assisted living community.
To review the Power Point presentation that Shirley Rodriguez, Director of the Assisted Living Program for the Department of Community Health made for LeadingAge Georgia members click HERE.
Palliative Tool Kit Now Available Through Alliant Health Solutions By Ginny Helms
Alliant Health Solutions, Inc., Georgia's Quality Improvement Organization launched their Palliative Care Tool Kit to help communities learn how to truly provide quality palliative care. Although the program was designed for nursing homes, the foundation of the program is applicable to a variety of settings. Alliant rolled out the tool kit after implementing the program in thirteen nursing homes in Georgia and fourteen homes in North Carolina. Participants of the program enthusiastically reported that it improved their ability to ensure well-being of residents and said that although they thought they were providing palliative care, they learned that they were not really providing good palliative care until after the training. Trail blazers like the Hebrew Home in New York have implemented palliative care programs and now with the help of Alliant Health Solutions, we can have great palliative care programs here. Quality palliative care helps manage pain, discomfort, as well as the sleep disorders, anxiety and agitation that come with living in pain. Palliative care is often needed prior to end-of-life so that residents side-lined by pain and discomfort associated with heart disease, cancer, renal failure and other conditions can live more fully. It is used before Hospice is needed and is considered more palatable to both participants as well as family members.
To download the toolkit click HERE.
2019 LeadingAge GA/SC Annual Conference Do you remember where you were on March 25-27? Well, if you were not in Hilton Head, SC for our annual conference, then you missed an incredible LeadingAge GA/SC conference. From an engaging and laughter filled opening keynote with Donna Cutting, to our camp leader and closing keynote Christopher Ridenhour taking us on a fun journey with workforce, I hope you walked away experiencing the "What If" theme for this year's annual conference. Many thanks for the outstanding Professional Development committees, board members, and Bi-state staff planning team for hosting yet another memorable conference for over 400 aging services providers, business partners, sponsors, exhibitors and dynamic speakers.
Key Takeaways from the Annual Conference
- Workforce is a significant challenge across all levels of care in senior living. We must continue to think "outside the box" on ways to attract, engage and develop employees who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of seniors. Once we attract those employees, it's essential to work on strategies to increase overall employee retention within our organizations.
- Finding ways to create and engage our residents with technology can help redefine the aging resident. This engagement can enhance the residents overall lifestyle and well-being, along with assisting the staff in person-centered care. However, in today's world, we must also be mindful of protecting our organizations and residents from cybercrime.
- Affordable Housing is definitely in a crisis. Communication at the local level seems to be limited. The need for affordable housing is increasing dramatically. It's imperative for each of us to continue educating our community, the community around us and our elected representatives at all levels.
Click HERE to veiw photos from the conference photos.
Save the Date
In case you are already planning for 2020, we had a date change for the conference after we made the initial announcement. The GA/SC Annual Conference in Greenville, SC will take place March 25-27, 2020.
Aging Well Expo: Connect. Create. Contribute
2019 Aging Well Expo is a multi-cultural expo for the greatest generations of our time to connect, inspire, become informed, empowered, and sample the rich Atlanta heritage as it meets the new Hollywood of the South. Join us for a spectacular experience to include Senior Idol and Top Chefs. Aging Well Expo is presented by Georgia Power, City of Atlanta's Mayor's Office of Constituent Services and in partnership with AARP Georgia.
Registration is required to attend.
To learn about the Aging Well Expo click HERE.
Congratulations to National Church Residences on being ranked in the top 10 affordable housing owners in the country! See the full list HERE.
Congratulations to Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF) on their 55th Anniversary! RHF has 5 affordable housing communities in Georgia: Benson Manor (Smyrna), Dogwood Retirement (Milledgeville), Farrfield Manor (Columbus), Ingleside Manor (Macon) and Lane Manor (Stone Mountain). Thank you for all you do to care and support the residents in your communities.
Congratulations to A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab Cobb, which was voted best nursing home in Cobb County, and is recognized in April's edition of Cobb Life!
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