More Oversight of Elder Care Facilities in San Diego County

Over the past several months, Southern California has been in the elder law spotlight.  With news of rampant nursing home abuse throughout the state and a PBS frontline special, California legislators have been looking to more closely regulate residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) in our state.  During the second week of March, the San Diego Board of Supervisors made a decision to “tighten oversight of residential care facilities for the elderly,” and they also elected to fund a “one-year pilot program to investigate and prosecute crimes committed at care homes, according to an article in KPBS San Diego.

Old Man

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem in San Diego and, indeed, across the state and country.  If you suspect that your elderly loved one has been injured because of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience handling these claims, and we’re eager to help with your case.

Details of the San Diego County Supervisors’ Decision

How will San Diego County tighten up its RCFE oversight?  First, the supervisors “unanimously approved establishing an eight-member unit in the District Attorney’s office” that will be “tasked with enforcing standards of care, and working to identify and prosecute” criminal cases of elder abuse.  This new unit will do its best to bring to justice nursing homes and other elder care facilities that aren’t playing by the rules.  According to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, her office “works very hard to help victims of elder abuse” and to “hold those who prey on them accountable.”

What else will change?  San Diego County is also planning to provide additional funding for its Long Term Care Ombudsman program.  Back in 2009, funding for this program essentially was cut in half, but Supervisor Greg Cox has promised that the county will restore that lost funding.  According to the County of San Diego’s website, the Long Term Care Ombudsman program “advocates for residents in long term care facilities.”

For the purposes of the program, long term care facilities include nursing homes and certain other licensed facilities in the state of California.  And if you’re not sure what an ombudsman does, it’s simply a person who “listens to concerns, provides information and assistance when requested, and will investigate and resolve complaints related to care or personal rights.”

According to Cox, the board plans to double the number of patient advocates it currently has, thereby increasing the number of “unannounced visits to facilities.”  More patient advocates also means more employees who can investigate complaints when they come in.

Elderly Residents in San Diego County to Double in Coming Decades

If county officials are right, “the number of residents at least 75 years old” will “nearly double by 2030.”  Yet before making these important reforms, the services and resources available to older adults through San Diego County weren’t sufficient.  The supervisors hope that their plans for additional and stricter oversight measures will help out with the “Silver Tsunami” that’s on its way in the coming decades, as many officials call it.

Are you concerned about an elderly parent who currently resides in a residential care facility for the elderly in Southern California?  Contact a San Diego elder law attorney at the Walton Law Firm today to talk about your case.

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Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

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