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Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed cuts of the California budget may increase the risk of elder neglect and abuse to the nearly 150,000 elderly residents of nursing and residential care facilities.

According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the proposed cuts will reduce inspections and will further cripple an already struggling program. Moreover, a reduction in the budget of the Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division – which currently is only required to inspected residential facilities once every five years – while assisted living care is growing rapidly is a set up for disaster.

“Inspecting RCFEs once every five years or less is a recipe for neglect and abuse,” said Patricia McGinnis, CANHR’s executive director. “Care standards and residents’ rights become virtually meaningless when inspections are so rare. Issuing a license under these conditions deceives consumers who assume the state is conducting regular inspections or offering oversight and protection to residents.”

Currently there are more than 7,500 assisted living facilities for the elderly in California, a 25% increase since 2000. Yet the state inspection system of these facilities, once the model for other states, has continually diminished.

An increase in oversight and enforcement is needed now more than ever. The present oversight system does not ensure the basic care and safety of elderly residents. At the very least, each RCFE should be inspected every two years. Facilities with poor compliance histories should be inspected annually or more often.

For more information contact Pat McGinnis at CANHR, (415) 974-5171.

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