House passes Ross senior respite bill


State Rep. Chris Ross

HARRISBURG – The state House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Ross (R-158) that would establish a licensing program for community respite services, making it easier for senior citizens to receive appropriate transitional care as they age.

“House Bill 1702 would authorize the Department of Aging to license and inspect programs that provide community respite services,” Ross said.  “Respite care offers older Pennsylvanians, who require only minimal care and want to remain in their homes, an alternative to assisted living or nursing home care.  They are transitional programs that enable seniors to receive sufficient care and save money by not paying for more services than they need.”

The Kennett Square Senior Center recognized a need for temporary respite services for seniors who were not ready for assisted living or more intensive care, but still require limited assistance. Respite services can also give caregivers a much-needed break.

“Under my bill, community respite services programs would apply for annual licenses and be subject to inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.  Oversight may be provided by the department or the Area Agency on Aging, if it so chooses,” said Ross.

An acuity assessment would be made prior to admitting an individual into the program.  Program participants would then be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the individual is receiving the most appropriate care, based on their needs.  When a higher level of care is needed, counselors would be available to assist families in determining the next step for their loved one.

To be eligible for respite care, a participant must be 60 years of age or older and:

• Not present a risk of wandering, beyond gentle redirection.
• Not require assistance with medication or personal care.
• Be able to express critical needs.

Licensing requirements and regulations will be created by the Department of Aging with input from the Area Agencies on Aging and representatives of adult day care and senior center communities.

Ross’s bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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