The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.
Leading the message on older adult protection
Patti Cullen, CAE | February 15, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 952-851-2487
On February 6, 2019, the first of many hearings was held on older adult protections—and, despite countless hours of interim discussions on the core topics, the tone of the hearing was the same as during the 2018 legislative session. Family member after family member came up to the testifier’s table and told heart-wrenching stories of abuse and neglect against their loved ones in senior care settings. New legislators, who were not present during the 2018 hearings, were shocked at stories from families—such as the son who used hidden cameras to verify the abuse his family suspected.
We were forewarned by consumer advocates that they were going to bring out personalized stories, and we also know from the advertisements and social media what the top messaging will be:
“Minnesota seniors cannot wait one more year for adequate protections in long-term care residential facilities which includes nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Please prioritize legislation that:
- establishes new license requirements for assisted living residences to protect and keep safe vulnerable residents, many of whom have diagnoses of dementia;
- strengthens the rights of older Minnesotans to protect against retaliation when they or their family members speak out about poor quality of care;
- provides residents with the right to place a camera in their private room to prevent and monitor abuse; and,
- allows frail elders with an immediate right to appeal a discharge decision when the facility says they can no longer care for them.”
We don’t need to be victims of the media messages and the personalized stories. With your help in talking with your own elected officials, we can take control of the messages and make sure the elected officials understand the measures we take to protect older and vulnerable adults each and every day. Below you’ll find some of the messaging I have been sharing with legislators and the media, and I encourage you to take these action steps today:
- Reach out and personalize these messages with your local legislators today—and throughout this legislative session.
- Invite your legislators into your buildings and show them what you do and how dedicated your staff are to ensure the seniors in your communities are protected, as much as possible.
- Make sure your staff are all aware of the implications of their words and actions—not just on the seniors in your buildings—but also on family members.
- Listen to the complaints from seniors and family members and do your best to address their concerns. Your family members can also be your greatest advocates.
- Consider submitting positive stories and/or opinion pieces to your local newspapers—we would be happy to help you with that messaging.
- Seniors should be able to live independently for as long as they are able, with access to the safe, quality care options they need in the communities they call home.
- Protection of vulnerable adults lies at the very core of our work. We know we can and will do better to prevent abuse and neglect of seniors and vulnerable adults, which is why we are supportive of assisted living licensure, improved enforcement, allowing electronic monitoring, development of quality measures for assisted living, and enhanced rights for those living in our communities.
- There are many perspectives that need to be considered as we work together to ensure that we have a system that balances the values of independence and choice with the desire for safety and protection.
- Whatever law is passed, we need to ensure there are adequate resources for implementation and enforcement. Some of the regulatory oversight issues that were identified by the Office of Legislative Auditor when reviewing the state complaint system in 2018 can only be fixed with an investment of new funds for enforcement and for increasing the numbers of ombudsman available to respond to concerns from seniors, in both nursing facilities and assisted living.
- Care Providers of Minnesota, along with other organizations, actively participated in interim working groups on older adult protection topics identified during the 2018 legislative session. Those discussions have hopefully set the stage for continued open negotiations during this legislative session—even with the difficult and emotional tone set in the hearings.
- There are many provisions brought forth by consumer advocates (contained in SF805/HF649) which we support, and which were discussed in the interim workgroup meetings. For those provisions that we find operationally challenging, we are hopeful there can be a resolution during the legislative process.
- We have a responsibility to identify the potential for unintended consequences of some of the proposals
- provisions where businesses could close because they cannot meet the standard or where their financing arrangements are at risk;
- provisions where the results will be consumers experiencing no access to services they want;
- provisions impossible to meet with a workforce shortage.
It is our hope that the committee process this year will allow for an open dialogue and resolution of the different perspectives through negotiations, and that there will be final legislation on older adult protections signed into law this year.