Archive for the ‘Ombudsman’ Category

Florida State Ombudsman Put on Administrative Leave

August 6, 2013

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) has recently become aware that the Florida State Long-Term Care Ombudsman was put on Administrative Leave: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/30/3532427/florida-advocate-for-elderly-place.html

 Similar articles have been posted in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and other media outlets. Unfortunately, we do not have any additional information about the situation at this time.

These recent events, and the turmoil of the Florida ombudsman program of the past two years, are extremely unfortunate for nursing home residents and other consumers in the state. The Consumer Voice remains very concerned by the lack of stability within Florida’s long-term care ombudsman program and calls on Governor Scott to take action quickly to ensure that all Floridians are afforded full support by the program. Furthermore, as home to the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC), the Consumer Voice is ready to assist the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in any way possible.

Source:
Florida State Ombudsman Put on Administrative Leave

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Linda Kincaid Reports: Elder Advocates Urge Support for California AB937 to Curb Elder Abuse

May 13, 2013

California’s AB937, introduced by Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski,codifies basic personal rights for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. The right to have visitors, the right to receive phone calls, and the right to receive mail are already part of California law. However, these personal rights are often violated by court appointed conservators seeking unbridled power over vulnerable individuals.

Section 2351 of the Probate Code is amended to read:

(a) Subject to subdivision (b), the guardian or conservator, but not a limited conservator, has the care, custody, and control of, and has charge of the education of, the ward or conservatee. This control shall not extend to personal rights retained by the conservatee, including, but not limited to, the right to receive visitors, telephone calls, and personal mail, unless specifically limited by court order.

In favor of the bill are  California Advocateds for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR),  Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR), numerous Long-Term Care Ombudsman and elder advocates throughout the state. Families of abuse victims strongly favor the rights stated in AB937.

Opposing the bill is the Californial Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians and Public Conservators.  Santa Clara County Public Guardian Don Moody and Director of the California Department of Social Services Will Lightbourne are also on record as opposing personal rights for conservatees.

Opposition from Moody and Lightbourne is not surprising. Moody’s department unlawfully imprisoned and isolated conservatees Gisela Riordan and Lillie Scalia for years. The abuse began when Lightbourne was Santa Clara County Social Services Agency Director. After moving to Sacramento, Lightbourne publicly supported ongoing abuse by Moody. Riordan and Scalia regained their rights only after coverage by the ABC7 I-Team in San Francisco.

AB937 does not change California law. The bill simply clarifies existing personal rights and codifies those rights into the Probate Code.

The full Assembly will vote on AB937 on Thursday, May 16, 2013.
Letters of support can be sent to:
Legislative Aide Heather Falkenthal
Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski
Office: (916) 319 – 2025
Fax: (916) 319 – 2125
Heather.Falkenthal@asm.ca.gov

Full Article and Source:
Elder Advocates Urge Support of California AB937 to Curb Elder Abuse

Read AB937

Lawless America: Marjorie Partch

January 11, 2013


Source:
Lawless America: Marjorie Partch

Linda Kincaid Reports: Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse, Part III

November 25, 2012

Gisela Riordan is a victim of elder abuse by the Santa Clara County Public Guardian. Gisela is falsely imprisoned and unlawfully isolated at Villa Fontana, a residential care facility in San Jose, California. That abuse is ordered by the Public Guardian and funded by taxpayer dollars.

In 2010, the Probate Court appointed the Public Guardian as Gisela’s conservator. The Court ordered the Public Guardian to manage visits with Gisela’s adult children. The court did not authorize any further restrictions on Gisela’s right to visitation.

Since 2010, the Public Guardian has denied visitors, phone calls, and mail. Family and advocates have pursued every avenue to establish contact with Gisela, determine her condition, and assure her she is not forgotten. When the ABC 7 News I-Team asked to visit Gisela, the Public Guardian instructed Villa Fontana to call 911.

Apathy &  Negligence by Governmental Agencies

California’s Resident’s Personal Rights and Notice of Conservatee’s Rights both guarantee Gisela’s right to visitation. California’s Probate Code requires the least restrictive residence. However, government agencies tasked with protecting those rights are entirely apathetic.

Adult Protective Services routinely refuses to intervene in cases of elder abuse by court appointed guardians or conservators. They did not respond to multiple complaints from this reporter. APS can be reached at 408-975-4900 or 1-800-414-2002.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Wanda Hale stated to this reporter that Gisela is allowed to have visitors. Hale said she reached that conclusion based solely on discussion with staff at Villa Fontana, the facility that unlawfully enforces the isolation. Wanda Hale can be reached at 408-944-0567.

Community Care Licensing Division of Department of Social Services has authority to order compliance with regulations and to assess civil penalties for violations of resident’s rights. However, their June 19, 2012 Complaint Investigation Report on Gisela’s case indicates Licensing in Santa Clara County will allow violations of personal rights, provided the resident’s file contains “parameters” for those violations.

“Based on our investigation visits and phone calls are permitted within the parameters established in the resident’s file. Allegation is unfounded at this time and no citation is issued.”

Community Care Licensing San Francisco Coastal Regional Manager Pam Gill approved the report quoted above. Ms. Gill can be reached at 650-266-8800.

Full Article and Source:
Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse, Part III

Letter to the Editor: Advocate for the Elderly Under Long Term Care

June 20, 2012

To the Editor:

As you read this letter, there are countless thousands of vulnerable elderly people across this country who are being abused, neglected and financially exploited. These are crimes that are, by all accounts, severely under-reported and get far too little attention in our youth-focused society.

As New Jersey’s long-term care ombudsman, I oversee a resident-focused advocacy program that seeks to protect the health, safety, welfare, and civil and human rights of older individuals who live in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

While awareness of an issue is important, in my view, action is even more important.

Right here in Gloucester County, we have nine nursing homes but only six volunteers.

The need is clearly there — will you answer the call?

Full Letter and Source:
Advocate for the Elderly Under Long Term Care

CA: State’s Long-Term Care to Get Better

January 26, 2012

The Senate’s Human Services Committee voted this week to approve legislation to strengthen the independence and accountability of a program intended to defend the rights, safety and welfare of long-term care residents in California in light of recent scrutiny.

“There is warranted concern that California’s State Ombudsman program is not effectively advocating for residents,” said Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, noting recent studies by both the Senate Office of Research and the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.

Wolk’s legislation, Senate Bill 345, strengthens the ability of California’s Long-term Care Ombudsman to act independently to fulfill its state- and federally-mandated responsibilities, which include investigating long-term care resident complaints, protecting the legal rights of residents, advocating for systematic change, and publicizing issues of importance to residents.

SB 345 would reinforce the independence of the politically-appointed state ombudsman from the California Department of Aging, which currently oversees the program, and require increased accountability for the ombudsman’s advocacy efforts.

Full Article and Source:
State’s Long-Term Care to Get Better

An Opportunity to Recognize Pro Bono Lawyers and Their Clients

November 1, 2011

Lois DeWolf asked for little. The Battle Creek woman in her nineties took great pleasure in simple things like riding city buses around town and spending the day people-watching at the mall.

That all came to an end when her poorly maintained home was condemned and Adult Protective Services (APS) petiioned the court to appoint a professional guardianship company as temporary guardianship/conservatorship.

The guardianship company took control of DeWolf’s finances, and she was placed into a nursing home.

DeWolf’s nightmare really began in the nursing facility. According to friends, unfounded presumptions were made about her health, and for months she was denied visits from her friends, members of her church, and other well-wishers. Even though she did not have dementia, DeWolf was made to wear a “wander guard”-a leg bracelet designed to keep tabs on those who suffer from Alzheimer*s disease. The once-independent, mobile senior was now confined and in misery.

Bradley Vauter, a concerned and compassionate member of the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors, alerted attorney Kelly Quardokus of DeWolf’s plight. She agreed to represent DeWolf pro bono.

“Kelly was an answer to prayer,” said Joan Klopfenstein, one of DeWolf’s closest friends. “She stepped in and within one day the tether was off. Lois was allowed to have friends visit, the following Sunday she was allowed to go to church, and friends could take her shopping and out to eat.”

Quardokus chalked her success up to experience and knowledge of how to work within the long-term care system to benefit elderly clients. “I was just so grateful to help her,” Quardokus said.

*She was so independent, and I felt that she should go on living that way.*

Quardokus believed DeWolf would benefit from collaboration with other advocacy agencies. Before she approached APS and the nursing home about DeWolf, Quardokus enlisted the support of K. Jonker, the local ombudsman from the Michigan Office of Long-Term Care. With Jonker’s help, Quardokus was able to persuade APS to drop the guardianship/conservatorship in exchange for a patient advocate and durable power of attorney, which gave DeWolf more choices and control of her life.

Now living semi-independently, a grateful DeWolf echoed her lawyer’s sentiment. Her message to lawyers who are not providing pro bono services is: “Please help. You are really needed.” Lawyers concerned about the lack of fi nancial compensation for pro bono services should consider the observations of DeWolf’s friend, Joan Klopfenstein: “Through her efforts, Kelly was able to restore Lois’s dignity. Who can put a price tag on that?”

Source:
Pro Bono Month: An Opportunity to Recognize ProBono Lawyers and Their Clients

Senate Judiciary Subcommitee on Administration and the Courts Holds Hearing on Guardianship

September 28, 2011

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a hearing (Thursday, Sept. 22) on protecting seniors and persons with disabilities from abuse and neglect by guardians.

During the hearing, Klobuchar called for more accountability and oversight of court-appointed guardians to ensure that seniors are safe and receive the care they deserve. Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.

Klobuchar invited Minnesota State Ombudsman Deb Holtz to testify at the hearing. Holtz serves as the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging, and is the top consumer advocate for thousands of elderly Minnesotans.

“We know from experience, unfortunately, that many people are being ill-served by their guardians and conservators. We also know that many court systems simply lack the resources to effectively monitor this enormous system,” Holtz said. “We are very supportive of Senator Klobuchar’s action to now take on this issue at the federal level. It should be a given that we all age without any abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation and that our lives will continue to be filled with dignity.”

In addition to Holtz, other witnesses that testified at the hearing included Kay Brown, Director of the GAO’s Education, Workforce and Income Security team; Naomi Karp, Strategic Policy Advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute; Robert Baldwin, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the National Center for State Courts; and Michelle Hollister, Managing Partner at Solkoff Legal, P.A., and former Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Public Guardianship Office.

Full Article and Source:
Sen Klobuchar Chairs Hearing on Protecting Seniors From Abuse, Neglect

View the Hearing

Read the 2010 GAO Report: Guardianships – Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect and Abuse of Seniors

Long-Term Florida Care Cop is Necessary

September 19, 2011

Millions of elderly Floridians in long-term care facilities deserve a robust, independent watchdog to combat and prevent abuse and neglect.

At present, they have none.

The state’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program sends volunteers to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to check on conditions and respond to complaints from residents and their families.

But a disturbing report la from the U.S. Administration on Aging charges that the program is hamstrung by political interference and by a lack of independence from the state Department of Elder Affairs — the agency it should be free to criticize.

At the center of this ongoing controversy is Gov. Rick Scott’s decision, soon after he took office in January, to fire ombudsman program leader Brian Lee, an outspoken advocate for the elderly who had antagonized the nursing home industry.

Lee’s dismissal shows the basic fault in the system. The ombudsman is supposed to have the authority to criticize the licensing rules for care facilities developed by the Department of Elder Affairs, and other activities.

But Elder Affairs also has the power to hire and fire the ombudsman.

The federal report says Elder Affairs administrators admit they do “not support the spirit” of the federal rules that are supposed to guarantee the independence of elder advocates and volunteers in the program.

That independence is critical to any ombudsman program seriously intended to deal with problems in long-term care.

Full Article and Source:
Long-Term Florida Care Cop Necessary

• Sen. Garrett Richter, District 37, 338-2777, richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov
• Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, District 27, 850-487-5356, benacquisto.lizbeth.web@flsenate.gov
• Sen. Mike Bennett, District 21, 225-3697, bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov
• Rep. Ken Roberson, House District 71, 941-613-0914, ken.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Paige Kreegel, House District 72, 941-575-5820, paige.kreegel@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Matt Caldwell, House District 73, 533-2411, e-mail matt.caldwell@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Gary Aubuchon, House District 74, 344-4900, gary.aubuchon@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Trudi Williams, District 75, 433-6775, trudi.williams@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, District 76, 417-6200, kathleen.passidomo@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Matt Hudson, District 101, 417-6270, matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov
• Senate President Mike Haridopolos, 850-487-5056, haridopolos.mike.web@flsenate.gov
• House Speaker Dean Cannon, 850-488-2742, dean.cannon@myfloridahouse.gov
• Gov. Rick Scott, 850-488-7146,
rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

>Iowa Ombudsmen’s Job Plan Questioned

April 3, 2011

>Iowa’s top advocate for seniors in nursing homes wants to have her job performance evaluated by the industry she oversees.

At the same time, the director of the Iowa Department on Aging is telling the state’s eight local long-term care ombudsmen that they should not speak out about a recent dramatic cut in the number of state nursing home inspectors.

“That is unconscionable,” said John Tapscott, a former state legislator who now advocates for the elderly. “You can’t tell our ombudsmen not to speak out on the issues that affect their constituents.”

According to federal law, each of the nation’s long-term care ombudsmen is to advocate independently for the elderly residents of care facilities – a job that historically has put the ombudsmen at odds with both nursing homes and state regulators.

But new questions are being raised about whether Iowa’s ombudsman, Jeanne Yordi, is working independently or advocating effectively for the elderly.

Legislation passed by the Iowa Senate last week calls for the creation of an “advisory committee” that would review and comment on the ombudsman’s investigative procedures while participating in the ombudsman’s annual performance review.

Full Article and Source:
Iowa Senior Care Advocate’s Job Plan, Silence Questioned>