Higher Penalties for Assisted Living Facilities

Senate Bill Could Impose Tougher Penalties

With the serious elder abuse problems in residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) that have been coming to light in recent months, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to California residents that a new senate bill aims to “give California regulators the power to impose tougher penalties,” according to an article in Westport News.

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What is this legislation?  The bill, SB1153, would provide the California Department of Social Services (DSS) greater authority over care facilities that break the law.  According to another article in the San FranciscoChronicle, the bill would allow the California DSS to “ban new admissions to residential care facilities for the elderly that fail to correct serious health and safety violations.”  And when RCFEs fail to pay their fines, the SB1153 would allow regulators with DSS to “block admissions to facilities.”

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) have been pushing for a package of more than twelve different bills related to elder care reform, and this is one of them.  It’s being headed by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, and it will work in conjunction with other legislation to ensure that California seniors are receiving better treatment at RCFEs.  And when facilities fail to provide proper care, the legislation will give regulators new authorization to do something about the problem.  In this way, the bills aim to prevent bad behavior at RCFEs and to punish bad behavior when it occurs.

What Led to the Proposed Legislation?

If you’ve been following the news about care facilities in California, you likely remember some of the most heinous cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.  For example, the Westport News article cited the “most prominent failure” to date as “the state-ordered emergency closure of Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley in October.”  In that case, two state inspections failed to identify serious and life-threatening problems at the care facilities, and nineteen elderly residents essentially were abandoned but for the care of two volunteer workers.

According to Leno, the Castro Valley facility is one of the primary reasons for SB1153.  He emphasized that residents continued to move into Valley Springs Manor during the period in which it was under investigation by the state, as those residents had no clear way of knowing that there might have been a serious lapse in care at the facility.  Further, without change to rules governing RCFEs in California, the state’s current ability to fine facilities or to close them just isn’t enough to protect our elderly citizens.

Leno emphasized that the proposed legislation “will protect families and their senior members from going into facilities which could in fact threaten their lives.”  Thus far, there has been no registered opposition to SB1153.

And advocates believe it will do a lot of good in our state.  For example, Patricia McGinnis, the executive director of CANHR, believes that “this ban on new admissions will be taken seriously because it impacts a center’s ability to bring in new, paying residents.”  According to McGinnis, “the lost income will motivate facility owners to correct serious violations and comply with health and safety regulations.”  Regardless of the motivations of those in charge of RCFEs, the proposed legislation is interested primarily in one cause: making care facilities safer for older adults.

Has your elderly parent or loved one been the victim of nursing home abuse?  At the Walton Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping San Diego residents who have been injured at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Contact one of our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers today to talk about your case.

See Related Blog Posts:

California Healthcare Advocates Propose New Assisted Living Practices

Why Are So Many People Dying in Assisted Living Facilities?

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