Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes are institutions where much of us will spend the last decade of our lives. There are about 1.3 million residents in U.S. nursing homes. There are over 26,000 nursing homes in the U.S. 70% of people who reach the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in life. By 2050, up to 30 million people in the Americas will require long-term care services. Whether bed bound or just needing help with activities of daily living, the extra help that these facilities provide is crucial. As we reach this stage in our lives, the question is; “How do I get access to Cannabis at a nursing home?”
Shelby Grebbin writes in Skilled Nursing News about a skilled nursing facility in New York called Hebrew Home at Riverdale’s. In 2014, when New York passed their Compassionate Care Act, Dr. Zachary Palace, the Medical Director of Hebrew Home, was faced with a perplexing question: By permitting residents to exercise their full rights as citizens of the state to access Cannabis, could he put the senior care center at risk for non-compliance?
In the 21st century, Cannabis use continues to be decriminalized and de-stigmatized, and baby boomers are the major reason why. Remember, publicly displayed pro-Cannabis sentiments started back in the 70s. A couple of decades of “Say No to Drugs” was followed by a movement that permitted legal access Cannabis worldwide.
As a compassionate geriatrician, Dr. Palace recognizes the potential benefits of Cannabis for his patients. His clients need help with chronic pain, insomnia, poor appetite, and neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and seizures. Dr. Palace is also aware that Cannabis is a Schedule I drug and any skilled nursing facility receiving federal aid is in jeopardy of losing their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. In response, Dr. Palace and Hebrew Home CEO Daniel Reingold set out to create a Medical Cannabis program for their residents that legally works with the rules.
Most states allows residents to access Cannabis via recommendation from a physician. “They’re able to maintain it in their own space in their room,” says Dr. Palace. “They get a lock box that only they have the key to. It’s truly their property. And it’s not in the facility’s possession, but it’s in their own personal possession. Another participation condition requires residents to self-administer the Cannabis — unless they have a companion or family member who can administer it for them.”
Jean Talleyrand, M.D.,