RCFE Reform Act of 2014 Gains Momentum

We’ve been following the reform initiatives for residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) in California, and a story in U-T San Diego emphasizes that support for the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 has been gaining momentum.  Last Tuesday, legislation “pushed through separate committees at the state Capitol,” thus “making it more likely that rules governing senior homes will get tighter.”  Potential reform legislation now includes “nearly 20 different bills authored by lawmakers from both political parties,” reported U-T San Diego.

Old Man Currently, approximately 7,500 residential care facilities exist in California, and reform advocates are eager to support any legislation that will require greater oversight and will help to prevent instances of elder abuse.  Numerous nursing home abuse and neglect cases have made local and national news over the last year, and many of the recent reform measures have been offered in response to those reports.

However, not all Californians are in favor of the legislation.  We’ll go over the key points of the recent testimony and the perceived advantages and disadvantages of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014.  In the meantime, if you suspect that your elderly parent or loved one has sustained injuries because of elder neglect at a nursing home or residential care facility, it is very important to speak to an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.

Advocates in Favor of Nursing Home Reform

Most of the reform advocates who gave testimony concerning the pending legislation want an entire “overhaul” of the system in our state.  What would such an overhaul entail?  According to the article in U-T San Diego, reform advocates want to “require homes to carry liability insurance, increase fines and inspections, protect whistle-blowers, and require more timely investigations by regulators.”  Other possible measures include raising the licensure fee to operate a residential care facility, requiring the state to post records of violations online, and requiring additional training in order to be eligible to work at an assisted living facility or even to serve as an administrator within an RCFE.

Eric Carlson, a lawyer with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, indicated that increasing the number of inspections is the most important aspect for reform.  According to Carlson, “it’s hard to overemphasize how important the inspection process is,” as “relying on complaints is unrealistic.

Aaron Byzak, the grandson of a victim of elder neglect, created an advocacy group called “Hazel’s Army.”  The group pays homage to Byzak’s grandmother, who sustained a broken leg in an accident at a care facility and later died when staff failed to adequately respond to her injury.  Byzak is lobbying primarily for Social Services to be required to post compliance records online.  As of now, “the only way to view complaints and correction orders is by making an appointment in advance and visiting a state office in person.”  With such violations posted on the internet and made readily available to California consumers, fewer Californians will unknowingly seek the services of residential care facilities that have had a history of elder abuse or elder neglect.

Opposition to Legislative Reform

Who would oppose measures to improve living conditions for the elderly?  According to the article in U-T San Diego, opposition to some of the reform measures doesn’t relate to an unwillingness to assist the elderly, but rather stems from concerns about specific logistics of some of the bills.  For instance, the California Assisted Living Association “withheld support from one proposal…only because it did not specify how the money raised would be spent.”

What will happen from here?  The “bills that make up the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 will be sent to other committees within the state Assembly and Senate.”  It’s likely that the bills will endure certain additions, deletions, and alterations during this process, but advocates believe that the reform package will be adopted.

If you have questions about elder abuse in California or concerns about how the reform measures are likely to affect your elderly loved ones, don’t hesitate to contact an elder justice advocate at the Walton Law Firm.

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:

Online Map to Track Elder Financial Abuse

More Oversight of Elder Care Facilities in San Diego County