According to a recent article in the Contra Costa Times, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will impact licensing requirements for residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs). Specifically, the law will require applicants seeking a license to run an RCFE to “disclose prior ownership of any type of facility in any state.” With this information, elder justice advocates hope that California can prevent the opening of RCFEs by persons who have been linked to accusations of elder neglect or nursing home abuse around California and in other parts of the country.
History and Requirements of the New Law
The law began as AB 601, and it was written by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman. The law is aimed at establishing “specific suitability requirements for all licensing applications,” which involves the following:
- Determining the history of an applicant with regard to prior involvement in facilities throughout the country;
- Cross-checking the applicant’s provided information with records from the state’s Department of Public Health; and
- Permitting the California Department of Social Services to “revoke or deny a license when someone fails to disclose required information.”
Until Governor Brown signed the bill, there was little oversight when it came to getting a license to run an RCFE in our state. Prior to the law a new California resident could apply for a license to run an RCFE, but that person’s background would not be cross-checked with licensing agencies in other states. As such, someone who “may have faced significant fines or violations in other states” would not face serious barriers when attempting to run a facility in California.
Significance of Elder Neglect at a Castro Valley RCFE
The impetus to change the law really began, according to the article, back in October of 2013. The owner of a facility in Castro Valley learned that the state was closing the facility based on a number of violations. The owner, along with most of the staff, abandoned more than a dozen residents at the Castro Valley RCFE. The residents went for many days without proper care before the local sheriff’s office rescued them.
News from the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris emphasized that the owner and administrator of the facility would be charged with more than a dozen counts of felony elder abuse. It later became known that, at the time the owner applied for a license to run the facility, she already “had a slew of fines owed to federal and state licensing agencies for deficiencies and citations when she owned four California nursing homes.” Had the new law been in place when she applied for the license, she would not have been approved. As such, the state could have prevented a serious incident of elder abuse.
The law is just one step to ensure that California seniors are safe from injuries that result from nursing home abuse and neglect. If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, you should speak with an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you.
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