You may think you are ADA compliant . . . but chances are, you’re not.

By Susan Saldibar

John is a wheelchair-bound visitor at an assisted living community. He asks to use the restroom and the kindly receptionist allows him to use the staff bathroom located behind the front corridor. John wheels himself to the bathroom, and while he gets inside the door without a problem, he cannot reach the light switch from his chair.

This scenario happens more often than most people think, according to Greg Proctor, vice president of compliance at RealPage. Greg has been conducting compliance audits for over 20 years and has witnessed just about every twist and turn when it comes to ADA compliance.

We asked him why so many senior care communities aren’t in compliance and he shared with us a few common misconceptions.

“We are compliant . . . aren’t we?”

Many owners think they are in compliance because they assume that the architects and builders took it into account during construction of the building. But this assumption can be wrong because regulations change frequently.

“In the end, owners are liable regardless,” said Greg.  

This is why it’s important to have compliance audits conducted by a professional. All it takes is one incident and one person to report it. Being non-compliant can result in thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties; not to mention the cost of bringing your senior community up to code.

“But our resident units are accessible.” 

While your resident units are accessible, you must remember that ADA accessibility is also about accommodating the general public and your employees.

This means all public accommodations at your senior care community, inside and out, should be in compliance.

“What often gets reported are violations that occur outside of the resident dwelling units, such as the lobby, public restrooms or parking lots,” said Greg. “Many senior care providers often forget that these areas need to be compliant, and since they have never received a complaint or violation, they continue to operate under the assumption that nothing needs to be changed.”

And don’t forget, you should also be cognizant of your employees’ work areas, such as the staff break rooms and bathrooms, which also need to be accessible. 

So ask yourself; is your community guilty of believing these misconceptions? If the answer is yes, then the time to schedule a thorough compliance audit is now.