We were thrilled to receive an email from Nancy Peverini, Legislative Director for the Consumer Attorneys of America, announcing the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) is co-sponsoring a bill along with Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). The bill is designed to protect seniors and those with disabilities who reside in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE).
The new bill, AB 2171, has thus far garnered approval from the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care, establishes a statutory bill of rights and private right-of-action for residents of RCFEs. AB 2171 will serve to protect the dignity, safety and self-determination of California seniors and disabled adults who live in RCFEs.
“The past year has brought many shocking revelations about the mistreatment of seniors in RCFEs. These reports and the broad press on the topic demonstrate that RCFE residents are increasingly exposed to serious harm and death due to poor state oversight and their extraordinary vulnerability, a problem made worse by a lack of recourse when they are mistreated.
AB 2171 will help protect California’s at-risk elders in RCFEs by establishing a robust statutory Bill of Rights that addresses their fundamental needs in areas such as visitation, privacy, confidentiality, personalized care, autonomy, adequate staffing and many more. The measure will also strengthen a resident’s right to make choices about his or her care, treatment, and daily life in the facility and to ensure that the resident’s choices are respected.
In addition to fundamental rights, RCFE residents desperately need a better way to enforce their rights. California’s RCFE regulators have repeatedly shown that they are often unable to protect residents from abuse and neglect. AB 2171 addresses this problem by establishing a private right of action, the only real way a resident can enforce her own rights, particularly during a time where the regulatory agency lacks the resources to be effective.
These rights are already in place for California’s nursing home residents. RCFEs, by comparison, lack even minimal government oversight and inspections, making this population extremely vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The private right of action in AB 2171 will provide a pathway for RCFE residents and their families to prevent and stop ongoing violations without costing California any money.”
This latest effort by lawmakers and my colleagues to expand the rights and protections of elders who reside in residential care facilities should be considered a victory for our elders. This should also serve as a warning to those wishing to harm, manipulate, or otherwise take advantage of California citizens over the age of 65. I’m very proud to be a member of CAOC, and proud to support this legislation.