Several months ago, we told you about proposed legislation designed to protect LGBTQ seniors from nursing home abuse in long-term care facilities. That proposed legislation, Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), has now been approved by the California Legislature, according to a recent article in San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Older adults who identify as LGBTQ can face many forms of nursing home abuse and neglect that stem from prejudice and discriminatory behavior.
We want to give you a brief reminder about the proposed law and what it is designed to do, as well as to give you some more information about what it will take for it to become law.
Protections for LGBTQ Seniors Against Discrimination and Nursing Home Abuse
When we think about nursing home abuse, we do not often talk about issues of identity-based discrimination. Yet discrimination can play a major role in acts of psychological or emotional abuse, and staff members’ own prejudices may play a role in how they treat seniors in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. SB 219 is designed as a “Bill of Rights” for older adults who identity as LGBTQ and are residing in long-term care facilities in Encinitas and throughout the state of California. It is specifically aimed at providing protection for those who “rely on assistance from long-term care professionals . . . [who] are accused of mistreatment of residents through discrimination and homophobia.”
According to a study conducted by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, about 43% of LGBTQ seniors “either had witnessed abuse or were abused themselves by staff.” As the article emphasizes, given that many instances of nursing home abuse go unreported, it is possible that the number is even higher. What types of abuses were reported in that study? The article notes that the “abuse includes, but is not limited to, refusal of admittance or eviction to long-term care facilities because of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Nursing homes have also discriminated against LGBTQ individuals by requiring them to be separated from same-sex spouses.
If the bill becomes law, it will have some of the following specific protections:
- Facilities must use the resident’s preferred name and pronoun;
- Facilities would be prohibited from denying admission to a senior based on LGBTQ identity; and
- Facilities would be prohibited from evicting, moving, or otherwise involuntarily discharging a resident based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or HIV status.
What Will it Take Now for the Bill to Become Law?
The bill has been sent to Governor Jerry Brown to be signed, according to an article in The Bay Area Reporter. If Brown signs the bill, then he will be signing it into law. He will have until October 15 to put these protections into place for LGBTQ seniors in Southern California and across the state.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. It is important to think carefully about the particular kinds of elder abuse that seniors can face as a result of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. If we can recognize certain types of abuse, then we can take steps to prevent it. If Governor Brown signs SB 219 into law, it will be a first step in helping to prevent LGBTQ elder abuse in nursing homes throughout California.
Contact an Encinitas Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
In the meantime, if you have concerns about an older adult’s safety in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, an Encinitas nursing home abuse lawyer can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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(image courtesy of Peter Hershey)