State officials are writing first-ever regulations for Iowa’s assisted living centers for the elderly, and Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson met with residents, their families and those who work in such centers yesterday in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids to talk about the rules.Pederson says assisted living centers really didn’t exist 10 years ago, and as the industry developed, there hasn’t been a clear definition of what is involved, so consumers don’t really know. Pederson says the first thing the new law does is clarify just what assisted living centers are, and it provides some new consumer protections. For example, those who sign up to live in an assisted care setting must be able to get a copy of a contract which clearly spells out the terms of their living arrangements.Pederson says that way, if their health deteriorates, it’s clear whether they can remain in the facility. She says that hasn’t been clear in the past, and sometimes ailing residents who’re kicked out feel misled. Pederson fully expects some resistance to the new regulations.Pederson says the state must perform a balancing act, to ensure assisted living center residents are protected, while at the same time giving the centers enough freedom to innovate. Rob Kretzinger — president and C-E-O of the company that operates Wesley Acres in Des Moines, Park Center in Newton, Heritage House in Atlantic, Halcyon House in Washington, and The Village in Indianola — attended the Lieutenant Governor’s meeting. Kretzinger worries his “continuing care retirement communities” will get hamstrung with regulations.Kretzinger says “continuing care retirement communities” are kind of unique because people move in at a younger, more active age than the traditional nursing home or assisted living facility, and they continue to live independently. Kretzinger says he’s hoping to find a way to provide more in-home care outside of the facilities, to help Iowans live in their own homes longer and avoid moving into a nursing home prematurely.
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