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DHHS Work Group Releases Guide to Managing Emergency Closures of Residential Care Facilities

 

For Immediate Release
Monday, November 25, 2013
Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
              919-855-4840

Raleigh, N.C. - DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos today released the product of a departmental work group established immediately following the abrupt closure of several adult care facilities early this year. The group has created an operational guide to define the roles and responsibilities of local and state agencies in responding to emergency closures by owners to ensure the health and safety of residents.

"As the Department that regulates residential care facilities, we have clear guidelines on appropriate timeframes when closing a home is the only option," Wos said. "When owners disregard the guidelines, our first priority must be on protecting the residents and making sure they all have a safe place to live."

Licensed residential care facilities include family care homes, adult care homes and supervised living facilities for people with mental illness and intellectual developmental disabilities. An unannounced, or emergency closure, occurs when a facility does not provide the required 30-day notice to residents and DHHS.

Secretary Wos appointed Dennis Streets, director of the DHHS Division of Aging and Adult Services to chair the work group, which included representation from all DHHS agencies that play a role in oversight and regulation of adult care facilities as well as partner agencies at the county level. Their starting point was existing policies regarding sudden closure due to natural disasters.

"We recognize that the burden for immediate response lies at the county level," Streets said. "Our goal in the work group was to create a uniform approach that not only clearly spells out the responsibilities for state and local agencies, but also ensures coordinated support from numerous divisions within DHHS."

While the work group's emphasis was on protecting residents in the event of closure, Wos said she remains committed to exploring ways to discourage owners from acting irresponsibly.

"I intend to continue working with the leaders of consumer and trade groups on ways to strengthen our State laws to assure responsible practices among those providing residential care to some of our most vulnerable citizens," Wos noted.

To view the Operational Guide for Coordinated Response to the Sudden Closure of an Adult Residential Care Facility, click here.

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