Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Nursing Homes are the Most Dangerous Workplaces in America, Government Data Shows

November 14, 2013

Nursing homes had the highest rate of workplace injury and illness in 2012, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last year’s illness and injury incidence rate for private sector nursing and residential care facilities was 7.3%, the BLS reported . This was the highest overall, and it far eclipsed the illness and injury rates for workplaces that might seem more dangerous. The rate for miners (except oil and gas) was 2.7%, and the rate for construction was 3.6%.

Many nursing facility injuries occur when workers move residents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a campaign to reduce the number of musculoskeletal injuries sustained by long-term care workers, and the American Nurses Association is seeking to eliminate manual handling of residents. A bill in the House of Representatives,introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), would institute protections for nursing home staff.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Homes are the Most Dangerous Workplaces in America, Government Data Shows

Linda Kincaid Reports: NCPEA forum discussed social isolation as psychological elder abuse

November 7, 2013

On October 1, 2013, the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) held its first Forum on Polyvictimization in Later Life. The event in St. Paul, Minnesota was attended by elder abuse experts from around the country. This Examiner had the honor of being invited to participate.

The team solicited research and practice examples from a range of experts. The Oct 1 Forum deepened the team’s understanding of the research findings.

A common theme throughout the discussions was that elder abuse rarely occurs as single incident or as a single form of abuse. As with child abuse and domestic violence, abuse patterns repeat. Multiple forms of abuse occur together.

Social isolation is often an indicator of more broad ranging elder abuse. Perpetrators with designs on an older person’s assets will often isolate the victim from family and friends.

Social isolation is itself a form of elder abuse. Preventing an elder from having visitors or phone calls, telling callers that the elder is not available is a common tactic to separate the elder from loved ones. Social isolation is recognized as a form of psychological abuse.

In California, isolating an elder is a crime under Penal Code 368. On August 19, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 937, clarifying that conservatees retain the right to visitation, phone calls, and personal mail.

Investigators attending the forum were encouraged to “look beyond the surface.” They will often find that psychological abuse is accompanied by financial abuse and perhaps physical abuse or sexual abuse. By “digging deeper” investigators can find the forms of abuse that are not as readily seen.

Full Article and Source:
NCPEA forum discussed social isolation as psychological elder abuse

Senate Panel Advances Older Americans Act

November 4, 2013

A Senate committee today advanced legislation by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which supports Meals on Wheels and other services for the country’s rapidly-growing population of seniors.

The 5-year reauthorization sent to the Senate floor by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was cosponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman, and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking member. Sanders chairs the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

First passed by Congress in 1965, the Older Americans Act provides essential services for seniors like nutrition programs, job training, caregiver support, transportation, preventive health services and protection from abuse and financial exploitation.

Sanders made the case that Older Americans Act programs are a good investment. “We can feed a senior for an entire year for the cost of one day in a hospital,” he said. One study found that for every $1 in federal spending on Meals on Wheels, there is as much as a $50 return in Medicaid savings alone. Another program to prevent falls, the leading cause of injuries for people 65 and older, has been credited with reducing accidents and yielding savings on costly hospital and nursing home care.

As baby boomers age, the senior population in America has grown dramatically. Since 2006, the last year in which the Older Americans Act was reauthorized, there has been a 20 percent increase in the U.S. population of people 60 years old or older.

But inflation-adjusted spending on Older Americans Act programs has not kept pace. “All states are serving more seniors in need with less money,” Sanders said. “I strongly believe we should devote considerably more funding to these programs.”

Sanders said he is pleased that this bill has the strong support of more than 50 organizations representing the voices of tens of millions of Americans, including AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Council on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

“In the year 2013, in the United States of America, seniors should not be worried about how they will get their next meal. They should not be forced to choose between paying their electric bills or buying their medications. They should have the supports available to them to remain in their homes and communities. American seniors deserve to live with dignity and with a sense of security, and the Older Americans Act helps to provide that,” Sanders said.

Full Article and Source:
Senate Panel Advances Older Americans Act

Law 101

November 2, 2013

I’m not a lawyer, but I know this much:

The people are supposed to have constitutionally protected rights and liberties – civil and human – but they are being deprived of those rights in courts across the country responsible for their “best interests.”

Those courts are the ones where guardianships and conservatorships are handled – or mishandled?

And that’s because the law is NOT clear and unambiguous.
Due process requires notice, opportunity and a fair and impartial hearing.

It isn’t working that way in “protective” proceedings all across the country.

Elderly and disabled people who don’t know their rights are being sucked into “The Protection Racket,” without notice, and then being abused and financially exploited, even if they receive notice.

A NASGA member was victimized by a judge because there was a word missing from the statute:

Here’s the statutory language: “The court may schedule the hearing in less than seven (7) days from the date of service on the respondent; provided, that actual notice of the hearing is given to the closest relative and the respondent.”

That should be clear enough for most people: provide notice and then hold a hearing. But because there was a word missing from the statute, the judge took advantage of that omission, despite the fact that HE TEACHES LAW!

What’s the missing word? “Prior.”
“Prior” means “before,” as in: You can’t take a person’s property before he has notice and an opportunity to appear and participate in a hearing.

The law was not terribly unclear – even I understand it: You serve the person FIRST and then you hold a hearing.

Not that judge! He used telephone notice to hold a so-called “hearing” without the victim, after which he had the clerk issue a hearing notice for a future date. By that time, because of an unlawful order by the judge, the victim was no longer in control of his property – control had already been given to a “conservator” – and he could not hire a lawyer!

That judge must have forgotten what he learned in law school. So did the legislators when they amended the law. They left that word out – again!

Dickens said “The law is an ass.” No, it’s not the law! It’s the tricky way the legislators write it!

That’s just an example of how due process isn’t working in our state courts.

Congress promised to protect the elderly.
Why aren’t they doing it?

By a NASGA member.

See: “The Protection Racket” (May 24, 2010)

Oklahoma: New Nursing Home Hidden Camera Law Begins Today!

November 1, 2013

Oklahoma is one of the worst states when it comes to nursing home quality, according to a national study conducted by a nonprofit elder advocacy group.

On its report card, Families for Better Care gave the state an “F” rating.
Proponents of a new law hope hidden cameras will change that. 
Undercover cameras caught two caretakers abusing 96-year-old Eryetha Mayberry at an Oklahoma City nursing home. Police arrested the two women shown in the undercover video — Caroline Kaseke and Lucy Gakunga.
Kaseke bonded out of jail and has not shown up for court, authorities said. There’s currently a warrant out for her arrest.
The video prompted legislation allowing hidden cameras to be installed in nursing homes statewide.
It was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in May and goes into effect on Nov. 1.

Full Article and Source:
New Nursing Home Hidden Camera Law Begins Friday

Bill would allow “concerned parties” to petition to detain individuals with mental illness

October 28, 2013

Family members and concerned parties could get the right to petition county officials to detain individuals with mental illnesses in an emergency if a new bill is approved by the Legislature.

The bill, which received a public hearing Tuesday along with 11 other bills, would not only allow law enforcement officers to take mentally ill individuals into custody but would also allow any “interested parties” to petition for emergency detentions.

The bill would empower families to help individuals who are in imminent danger and gives such parties the opportunity to challenge the county’s decision, bill sponsor Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, said. 

Assembly Committee on Health member Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said she is concerned the bill’s language of “interested parties” is too broad because it could essentially allow any person to file a petition.

Jagler said he intends to clarify the language used, but intends for the interested parties to include family members and attending physicians.

Counties are also required to respond to the party’s request within 24 hours and provide a written response if their request is turned down under the bill. Parties would then be able to petition the court if their request is turned down and a judge could decide whether a temporary hold of the individual is necessary.

Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf, senior legislative associate for the Wisconsin Counties Association, said it is possible counties would turn down requests because county employees are already working with the individuals but cannot reveal such records because of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Diedrick-Kasdorf said the bill could also likely lead to an increase in emergency detentions because families would have no other option if their request was denied.

Counties would also be required to pay court and attorney fees if their response to a family’s request is reversed by a judge, which would dramatically increase costs for counties, Todd Liebman, corporation counsel for Sauk County, said.

Taylor said she is concerned about the costs for the county, as Dane County already struggles with funding for mental healthcare.

“When I first read this, I thought, ‘This is going to cost a fortune for the counties,’” Taylor said.

Jagler said the payment of fees is a financial safeguard, since the “loser” of the petition, whether it be the family or the county, pays the court costs.

Rep. Pat Strachota, R-West Bend, said there is also a possibility of frivolous suits, such as a husband or wife in a contentious divorce trying to detain their significant other.

“When you’re talking about personal situations where someone is lying out of spite, that would be a felony,” Jagler said of Strachota’s example. “To give false testimony to try to get somebody committed is a felony. If a person tries to go down this avenue to get somebody detained, the court costs would go to the petitioner, but if a judge agrees with the petitioner, the county would pay the court costs.”

Full Article and Source:
Bill would allow “concerned parties” to petition to detain individuals with mental illness

NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

October 25, 2013

— /PRNewswire/ — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law an AARP-backed bill that will cut red tape and save money for guardians by simplifying the process for exercising their rights when their loved ones live in another state.

The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (S2534/A857) will eliminate costly and time-consuming red tape for guardians in exercising health care, financial and other legal responsibilities for elderly parents or other loved ones who live out of state.

Read more here:

Under current law, guardians who live in New York must often hire lawyers to help them navigate other states’ court systems to receive approval to exercise their responsibilities – after they’ve already obtained such legal orders in New York.

The New York law is part of AARP’s national fight to focus on care, not courts, by removing the barriers that prevent caregivers from providing for their loved ones, regardless of where the loved ones live. New York becomes the most populous state with the law in place, joining 36 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“Forcing caregivers to spend time in lengthy and expensive court proceedings that drain family resources undermines their ability to provide care for their loves ones,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.  “Governor Cuomo has taken an important step toward cutting red tape for New Yorkers who care for loved ones in more than two thirds of other states, which already have this law on the books. AARP hopes the momentum will push the final states to join and create uniformity and reciprocity across the nation.”

Read more here:

Full Article and Source:
NYS Cuts Red Tape, Saves $$ for Guardians Who Care for Loved Ones in Other States

State bills target elder abuse, theft

October 2, 2013

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and two local state senators Monday urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign three bills aimed at helping to prevent elder abuse, including financial elder abuse.

“The changes to the law included in these bills will make a real difference as our Elder Abuse Unit works to hold defendants accountable when they abuse senior citizens in our community,” Dumanis said.

She was joined by Sens. Mark Wyland, R-Carlsbad, and Joel Anderson, R- San Diego, in encouraging the governor to sign the legislation.

SB 543, which is sponsored by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, would ensure that theft from an elder is a “qualifying prior offense” when sentencing a person to prison, removing an ambiguity in the law to treat elder theft with the same seriousness as any other form of theft.

“My mother was a victim of financial fraud, so this issue is personal to me,” Wyland said. “One of the most meaningful things we can do as legislators is to strengthen laws to protect the vulnerable in our communities from people who would take advantage of them.”

According to Anderson, “SB 543 will ensure criminals who commit crimes against our grandmas and grandpas will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“I believe, by signing this bill into law, Governor Brown will be sending a clear message to seniors,” he said. “California will not tolerate senior abuse and we are committed to protecting these cherished members of our society with all our might.”

Full Article and Source:
State bills target elder abuse, theft

Meet Brenda Kelley-Nelum, A Champion for Seniors (and NASGA Legislative Liaison!)

September 30, 2013

Brenda Kelley-Nelum, a loyal AARP volunteer, is a champion for senior citizens. She has been a longtime activist for standing up and protecting seniors from abuse and wrongdoings. A Washington D.C native, Brenda attended public school before they were integrated. In 1954, her 7th grade year, she went from a small six room elementary school to the quite large Eastern High School. The transformation she said is unforgettable. Brenda continued her education and received a BA from Howard University.

Brenda’s career consisted of being a federal auditor for the inspector general and a financial representative for the National Council of Senior Citizens now called Senior Service America.  She worked extensively with the Virginia Leadership Institute getting citizens in the Prince William area involved in the community through becoming members of state and local commissions. For fun, Brenda does different community service projects like planning an event educating people on healthy soul food cooking through the zeta chi omega chapter of her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. With over 100 attendants, some of the guests included the state President of AARP, a state senator, and a city council member. In her spare time Brenda, enjoys using Facebook and Twitter to keep up with friends and family.

Brenda first got involved with AARP to advocate for a new healthcare system. She saw AARP being criticized for supporting the Medicare Part D prescription drug legislation. Watching citizens in Richmond publicly destroying their AARP membership cards pushed Brenda into action; she thought “shouldn’t these people be working with AARP in order to have their concerns fought for?” and with that, she got involved. She felt that AARP was committed to seeing healthcare reform to the very end and she wanted to be a part of that—regardless of the flack she might receive from friends and neighbors.

Brenda mostly works with AARP on healthcare issues but she is a big advocate for doing more to combat elder abuse; a cause AARP is deeply concerned about. Brenda has been very vocal about elders being abused by those in trusted with their guardianship and would like to see the issue have more light shed upon it. Brenda would like to see AARP working on more of a micro level in order to be more responsive to every senior’s needs and concerns.

Meet Brenda Kelley-Nelum – A Champion for Seniors

California Bill Makes it Easier to File a Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit

September 11, 2013

Sacramento, CA: Victims of financial elder abuse in California may find it easier to file an elderly financial abuse lawsuit now that Assembly Bill 381 has been passed. The bill gives victims of financial elderly abuse by those who have power of attorney the ability to recover attorney’s fees and costs if they are successful in their lawsuit.

Assembly Bill 381 (AB 381) was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on August 14, and was written by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park). According to a news release from Assemblymember Chau, the law allows the court to award attorney’s costs and fees to seniors who are financially abused by people who use their power of attorney in bad faith.

Prior to AB 381, California law allowed double damages to senior victims of misappropriation of their funds, theft or bad faith on the part of someone with power of attorney. The problem with that was in many cases the cost of the lawsuit itself was even more than double the amount taken from the senior, meaning the senior would actually lose money by filing a lawsuit against someone who had stolen from him or her. The senior was left with the choice of either letting the perpetrator get away with the crime or incurring even more expenses by filing a lawsuit.

 AB 381 would allow the awarding of attorney’s costs and fees when the senior is successful in his or her lawsuit, making it more financially viable for the senior to file a lawsuit.

“Each year in California, elder and dependent adults are devastated by the loss of property taken from them through financial scams,” said Assemblymember Chau in his news release. “This bill makes certain that seniors who are victims of financial elder abuse will no longer have to worry about the cost of seeking justice.”

Full Article and Source:
California Bill Makes It Easier to File a Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit