California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed into law 10 of 14 bills aimed at protecting assisted living residents in the state. According to the Sacramento Business Journal, the laws are “designed to address what some say is a crisis of care in assisted living facilities across the state.” The new laws span a variety of components of assisted living, such as additional training requirements for owners of assisted living communities, to statutory rights for residents, and perhaps the most critical change: State regulators now have the ability to suspend admissions to an assisted living community which has received a number of violations deemed to pose a risk to the health and/or safety of residents.
Increased fines and stricter training requirements
U-T San Diego notes that the largest fine is now $15,000—for violations resulting in the death of a resident—a marked increase from just $150. This particular bill, focusing on increased fines, was co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, and it applies to all community care facilities in the state, not just assisted living communities. U-T San Diego brought attention to the markedly low fines for serious injury and death in a series of articles which highlighted 27 deaths and hundreds of injuries caused to residents in senior living communities in San Diego county alone, allegedly caused by abuse and neglect. U-T San Diego calls this series of bills “the state’s most sweeping overhaul of the industry in nearly three decades.”
The entire reform package was initiated earlier this year, sponsored by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, which released its own report last year with some concerning details about residential care in California. Legislators were motivated by this and other reports concerning a lack of adequate oversight in the senior living industry.
Here’s a look at the 10 bills signed into law by Gov. Brown and the focus of each:
- SB 1153 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) – This bill permits state regulators to suspend admissions to a residential care community with violations that place resident health and safety at risk.
- AB 1570 by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) – This bill outlines increased training requirements for owners of residential care communities in the state, as well as direct care staff.
- SB 911 by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) – Similar to AB 1570, this bill increases training requirements for administrators of residential care communities (rather than licensees) and direct care staff who perform specific duties.
- SB 1382 by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) – Another bill relating to increased training requirements, this bill addresses increased requirements for licensees (owners), administrators, and direct care staff.
- AB 1751 by Assemblymember Richard H. Bloom (D-Santa Monica) – The signing of this law means that residents in California assisted living communities must now have representation on governing boards of residential care facilities as well as quarterly reporting of financial statements.
- AB 1899 by Assemblymember Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino) – This law, in response to an incident occurring in response to the abandonment of 19 residents at a senior living community at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, now prohibits the reinstating of a license to any licensee who abandons a facility and therefore places residents’ health and safety at risk.
- B 2044 by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) – This bill addresses specific staffing requirements for residential care communities, along with health and safety requirements.
- AB 2171 by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) – Establishes statutory rights for residents, and requires the display of resident rights within the senior living community.
- AB 2231 by Assemblymember Richard S. Gordon (D-Menlo Park) – Re-instates a previous program which provides property tax deferment for seniors and the disabled.
- SB 895 by Senator Ellen Corbett (D-Hayward) – The signing of this bill means that residential care communities must now rectify licensing deficiencies within 10 days after notification.
Changes are beneficial for residents
These new requirements will now mandate that a CPR-certified staff member be on site at all times. Additionally, senior living community operators are now prohibited from punishing a staff member for calling 911 to obtain help for a resident facing a serious or emergent health concern. Previously, this was discouraged by some operators who believed it to reflect poorly on the community’s ability to provide adequate care, and, in some cases, was discouraged due to the impact transport would create for the community’s occupancy levels. In any case, staff members may now feel confident in seeking the necessary help for residents in emergent situations without fear of repercussion.