Residential Care Facility Inspections at Mercy of California Budget Cuts

Budget cuts proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger could cripple California’s oversight of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly. Further damage to the already struggling oversight program could put thousands of RCFE residents at risk.

According the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the proposed cuts come at a time when assisted living care is growing at a rapid rate. There are more than 7,000 assisted living facilities in the state, an increase of more than 25% over the last decade. Current law requires an inspection of RCFEs only once every five years, a dramatic decline from the 1980s when such facilities were subject to inspections twice a year.

Inspecting RCFEs once every five years or less is a recipe for neglect and abuse,” said Patricia McGinnis, CANHR’s executive director. “Care standards and residents’ rights become virtually meaningless when inspections are so rare. Issuing a license under these conditions deceives consumers who assume the state is conducting regular inspections or offering oversight and protection to residents.

In my practice, I have seen more and more RCFEs retaining residents that should be moved to a higher level of care, but are retained in the assisted living facility for questionable reasons. This trend, combined with an unthreatening state oversight program is not good news for California seniors.