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Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare expands scope of personal care home inspections...New regulations upheld by Commonwealth court now in effect

 

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The complete set of new regulations designed to improve the safety of residents of Pennsylvania's more than 1,600 personal care homes are finally being implemented after being upheld by Commonwealth Court. The Department of Public Welfare began using the new regulations in personal care home inspections this week.

"These regulations will result in a higher level of safety and protection, specifically in areas of fire safety, emergency preparedness, resident rights and staffing," said Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman. "A recent Commonwealth Court ruling upholding these regulations is a significant victory for residents of personal care homes and their families. We are extremely pleased with the outcome."

A sweeping package of personal care home regulations became effective on Oct. 24, 2005. The regulations were challenged in court by personal care home providers, who initially sought to stop the implementation of the entire set of regulations.

In response to the challenge, Commonwealth Court suspended 13 sections of the new regulations pending further review. Over the past few months, the Department of Public Welfare implemented the other regulations while waiting for the court to rule.

On May 24, 2006, Commonwealth Court dismissed the providers' challenges to the validity of the regulations on all counts. The court declared the regulations to be in full force and effect, with no exceptions. In response to the petitioners' claim that the new administrator qualification standards went beyond the law, the court ruled that DPW has authority to regulate the "standards for knowledge, education or training" of personal care home administrators.

 

Pennsylvania's personal care homes serve more than 52,000 frail elderly adults and adults with physical or mental disabilities needing help and supervision with daily care needs such as bathing, dressing, eating, walking and managing medications. The Department provides health and safety protection to the residents through the regular inspection and licensing of personal care homes.

The Department of Public Welfare helps people meet their basic needs by providing health care and other critical support services for children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, persons with disabilities and low income families and adults in Pennsylvania. DPW is dedicated to promoting, improving, and sustaining the quality of family life; breaking the cycle of dependency while protecting and serving Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens. Visit DPW on the Internet at: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/.

 

 

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