New Bill Raises Penalties for Elder Abuse and Neglect
Is the state of California taking seriously the problems with nursing home abuse and elder neglect at assisted-living facilities? According to a recent article in UT San Diego, Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a bill that will impose “a 100-fold increase in the top fine for violations of state regulations at assisted-living homes for the elderly.” Before Governor Brown signed the bill, the highest fine for a violation that results in the death of a resident was only $150. Now, the top fine rose drastically to $15,000.
Fines for elder abuse and neglect resulting in the death of an older adult are not the only penalty increases. To be sure, the bill will also raise the maximum fine for “violations leading to serious injury or abuse from $150 to $10,000.” And the new law will not just apply to assisted-living facilities, as was originally proposed in the bill co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego. It will “apply to all community care facilities in the state.”
Governor Brown already signed 13 different bills related to reforming assisted-living homes in California. The legislature is working to effect change in our state, and new laws will apply to more than 7,500 facilities across California. According to the article, these bills represent the “most sweeping overhaul of the industry in nearly three decades.”
Legislation Aimed at Residents’ Rights
In addition to increasing penalties for violations, the new legislation also provides residents in assisted-living homes with a statutory bill of rights. It looks a lot like the bill of rights that currently exists to protect patients in nursing homes.
What else will the bills bring? Staff at assisted-living facilities must now meet “stiffer training requirements.” For instance, administrators will face a training mandate of 80 hours, which is double the 40-hour training time required before the new laws. Staff trainings will also provide greater information about caring for residents who suffer from dementia.
Additionally, the owners of these facilities “will pay higher licensing fees.” In fact, licensing fees will see a “20-percent hike,” which is “enough to provide much needed funds to the Department of Social Services” as it regulates assisted-living facilities throughout the state. The new laws will also require that a staff member trained in CPR “be present at the homes at all times,” and employees will be freer to call 911 for assistance with residents who need medical treatment.
According to Patricia McGinnis, the executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the new reform package signed by Governor Brown is “a major victory for assisted living residents.” Yet, she emphasized that there’s still more work to be done. “We look at it as a good start,” she explained, “but we’re not finished by any stretch of the imagination.”
Do you have an elderly loved one who currently resides in an assisted-living facility? It is very important to know the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect. If you suspect that an older adult has been the victim of abuse, contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer today.
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