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Posted by on Aug 24, 2013 in Legislation Affecting Seniors, Seniors First San Diego, Sharon Lee | 1 comment

SB 609 (Wolk) Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Fact Sheet)

SB 609 – Ombudsman – Fact Sheet

ISSUE

Since 2010, there have been six reported incidents of willful interference in which ombudsman representatives have been prevented from entering a facility or securing confidential access to residents.

Ombudsmen provide valuable, free, and confidential services to a vulnerable and elderly population. Many residents are unable to advocate for themselves and/or have no family or friends to assist them. Local ombudsman volunteers protect vulnerable older adults by advocating for them. Local ombudsman volunteers investigate complaints, answer questions about nursing home procedures, work with staff, and notify agencies that license and regulate the facility.

According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, approximately 11 percent of certified California nursing facilities received actual harm or immediate jeopardy citations in 2010. In fiscal year 2009-2010, California issued 1,452 citations, deficiencies, and enforcement actions to nursing facilities. These citations directly related to resident health, safety, and security as well as serious harm or death to a resident.

WHAT SB 609 DOES

  • Increases civil penalties against long-term care facilities from $1,000.00 to $2,500.00 for each willful interference to hinder
  • Establishes a special fund to collect civil penalties for use by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

SUPPORT

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Area Agency on Aging of Lake & Mendocino Counties, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, California Catholic Conference, California Commission on Aging, Consumer Federation of California, County Welfare Directors Association of California, Ventura County Board of Supervisors. No opposition.

HISTORY

Growing concern with the quality of nursing facilities led to the creation of the program in the early 1970s. The California State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is governed by the federal Older Americans Act and the Older Californians Act.

In 2008, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state budget cut funding for ombudsman programs by approximately $3.8 million. Many local ombudsman programs lost approximately 50% of their funding. The budget cuts translated into staff layoffs, overstretched remaining staff members, fewer visits to nursing homes, and increased reliance on volunteers, which jeopardized the health and safety of countless nursing home residents.

OUTCOME

Increasing the civil penalty will deter facilities from willfully interfering with the activities and investigations of local ombudsman programs.

1 Comment

  1. On the verge of not seeming to be a spammer I’ll just say we need laws that give senior safety from teenagers on public transportation. I paid taxes for 40 some years and feel I paid for the right to feel safe, and I did a year in Vietnam and I feel less save in the past 15 homeless month then I ever did in Vietnam 1968. The VA’s help with homelessness and its subcontractors in San Francisco, San Diego and a place I wouldn’t mention because I fear retaliation is nothing less than bulling. Now I understand why there are so many suicides by military personal.
    Sincerely,
    Carl G. Mueller, Vietnam 1968,525 14TH ST., APT. 325,SAN DIEGO CA 92101-7547

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