Over the last year, California assisted living facilities have been under intense scrutiny by elder care advocates and the public alike. Just last month, California legislators appeared at a press conference in Sacramento to unveil plans for new bills that will encourage assisted living facility reforms throughout the state. The reforms will come “as part of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014,” according to a press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).
As you might recall, an RCFE is a residential care facility for the elderly. In California, RCFEs, also known as assisted living facilities, are responsible for a lower level of care than a nursing home, but they must still be licensed with the state. According to the Department of Social Services, RCFEs can “provide care, supervision and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming.” They can also “provide incidental medical services under special care plans,” but they can’t administer significant medical treatment or care.
The reforms may be able to curb certain acts of elder abuse in our state, but it’s still important to keep an eye out for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect if you have an elderly loved one in a facility.
Details of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014
According to the CANHR press release, the California RCFE Reform Act comes in response to some of the recent “scandals” that have affected elderly adults, such as the mass abandonment at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley. In many of these cases, reports have accused the state of “failures in oversight and enforcement.” Legislators specifically cited the Frontline documentary, “Life and Death in Assisted Living,” as a catalyst for the new legislation.
According to an article in KTVU Local, assemblywoman Nancy Skinner spoke out at the recent press conference. She described the “tragic incident at the Castro Valley care facility” as “preventable.” She also emphasized that it alerted legislators that “stronger measures are needed to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable.”Skinner, along with other legislators, introduced the RCFE Reform Act of 2014.
The Act will include bills that:
- Increase fines for RCFEs from the current maximum fine of only $150;
- Increase inspections of facilities to once a year, which is a dramatic increase from the current requirement of one inspection every five years;
- Establish a consumer information system that can be accessed online;
- Ban RCFE admission for facilities that pose a danger to older adults;
- Respond timely to consumer complaints;
- Enhance and increase staffing and training measures;
- Close bad facilities;
- Increase protection for resident relocation;
- Increase residents’ rights and the rights of their family members;
- Require liability insurance for all RCFEs.
The legislators involved in the Act have received support from a number of California organizations, including CANHR, the Consumer Federation of California, and the Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform in San Diego.
Has your elderly loved one sustained injuries while residing at an assisted living facility? You may be able to file a claim for compensation. It’s never too early, nor too late, to speak to a dedicated California elder law attorney. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.