Georgia Governor Signs Bill Requiring Licenses, Certifications for Assisted Living Communities

ATLANTA — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has signed House Bill 987, adjusting the state laws for assisted living and personal care home residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican state representatives Sharon Cooper and Brian Strickland co-sponsored the bill. Under the new laws, seniors housing communities will be required to pass a slew of state certification and licensing requirements. The bill defines personal care homes as any community that provides housing, food service and personal services such as medication administration or assistance with activities of daily living.

Assisted living and large personal care homes for the first time will be required to pass a test and be licensed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Memory care units will now have to be certified. Nurses will be required in assisted living and memory care, and overall staffing and training requirements will increase.

Communities will also have to prove they have the financial means to operate before they get a license and will have to disclose any financial problems that come up after they open, the Journal-Constitution reports.

Fines will also be increased under the bill. Per-day maximums were doubled from $1,000 to $2,000. Additionally, the minimum fine for a violation that results in “death or serious physical harm” will be $5,000.

Nursing homes will be required to have a plan for testing and containing future pandemics. All residents and staff in Georgia nursing homes must be tested for COVID-19 within 90 days, if they haven’t been tested already.

Most of the rules don’t go into effect until July 2021, and only apply to communities with at least 25 beds. This will allow the state time to set up a board, procedures and standards for the new requirements.

“One of the key battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19 continues to be in our nursing homes, assisted living facilities and personal care homes,” says Kemp.

“Moving forward, we will be better equipped to ensure the health and well-being of these residents across our state,” adds Strickland.