What can Kentucky do to be a more senior-friendly state?
By Sally McMahon
The Kentucky Senior Living Association (KSLA) is a Kentucky trade association exclusively dedicated to supporting those who operate professionally managed, resident-centered, senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. We spoke with Bob White, the executive director at KSLA, who described the history of the organization and what they hope to achieve going forward. Highlights from that conversation are below.
Medical News: When was the Kentucky Senior Living Association formed? Why was the organization formed?
Bob White: The Kentucky Senior living Association was formed in 1999. The regulations and statutes for assisted living in Kentucky were established in late 1998 and 1999, so it was natural to start this association in the beginning of the assisted living industry in Kentucky.
We started with the name Kentucky Assisted Living Facilities Association (KALFA). We changed our name to Kentucky Senior living Association (KSLA) in January of 2018. The reason for the name change is because it more clearly reflected who we represent: independent living, personal care homes, assisted living communities and memory care. We truly are the only organization in Kentucky exclusively representing the senior living industry.
Medical News: How has the senior living space evolved since the formation of KSLA?
BW: Since the formation of KSLA in 1999, the senior living industry has evolved from 10 original assisted living communities to approximately 120 in 2018. Memory care has also evolved in this industry with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients needing special programming. Personal care homes have been around for years, but the apartment style, up-scale, private pay personal care homes are now being built in Kentucky. These communities are the assisted living medical model, whereas the certified assisted living communities are a social model with no medical intervention.
Medical News: What is your most proud moment working in the senior living space?
BW: Our most proud moment is when we walk into a senior living community and see happy and satisfied residents who would not have had this opportunity twenty years ago. Their only alternative then was a nursing home that may have had a personal care bed.
Medical News: What challenges will your members face going forward? What steps are being taken to address these challenges?
BW: Our members will face many challenges going forward such as renting up the communities, overcoming negative attitudes toward the senior living industry and financing the residents in senior living.
Steps taken to address these challenges include education of the adult children looking for solutions for their elderly parents, encouraging people to purchase long-term care insurance which cover assisted living and personal care in their policies and having our Kentucky senators and representatives visit our communities to see how valuable the senior care industry is for our older adults and to encourage these politicians to pass legislation to help finance the industry.
Medical News: What can Kentucky do to be a more senior-friendly state?
BW: Kentucky should provide funding for indigent residents to be able to move into assisted living communities. There is no state funding for assisted living currently in Kentucky. There is some state supplementation for personal care residents, but it is only less than $40 per patient per day.
The state could increase this amount by getting a waiver from the federal government to get matching dollars. If this should happen, we could triple the reimbursement without increasing the amount the state budgets for this expenditure.