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UPDATE: Dayton's office announces $14.9 million proposal to help with senior citizen safety, health

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On Tuesday morning, Governor Mark Dayton announced his $14.9 million dollar proposal to keep Minnesotans in privately-owned residential care facilities healthy and safe. 

The proposal would add more robust licensing requirements for residential care facilities, enhanced inspections and investigative process, better communication with seniors and their families, and strengthen the rights for seniors and their families.

Dayton's office laid out the following plans:

  • Support efforts to use complaint data to identify trends and inform prevention efforts undertaken in partnership with providers. These efforts would help ensure that victims and their families receive justice, while violating facilities are held accountable in a timely manner.
  • Establish a new legislative task force to make further recommendations in the years ahead, and provide funding for the Department of Health to make continued upgrades to processes and technology to strengthen protections for older and vulnerable adults. The proposal would also continue to review and assess the current criminal code, to look for ways it might be further strengthened to protect vulnerable adults.
  • Provide grants to counties across the state to facilitate local investigations of abuse complaints. These county governments are often best-positioned to respond quickly to local concerns, but lack the resources they need to complete investigations efficiently and thoroughly.
  • Update and strengthen licensing requirements for all assisted living and dementia care settings to improve management practices and patient care.
  • Strengthen the civil rights of older or vulnerable adults, to allow them to go to court to defend their rights. It would clarify the right of victims to challenge maltreatment findings, and would strengthen criminal penalties, allowing local prosecutors to charge perpetrators with a gross misdemeanor for assault of a vulnerable adult for threats and non-physical abuse against a vulnerable adult.
  • Allow family members to sue on behalf of their loved ones. In the tragic case of an older or vulnerable adult passing away due to an alleged abuse, the Governor's proposal would ensure family members could continue any existing lawsuits regarding the alleged abuse.
  • Allow residents to appeal housing or home care decisions made by providers to the Office of Administrative Hearings, similar to the rights of nursing home residents to challenge involuntary discharge decisions. In addition, the proposal would ensure that providers receive additional education about the Elderly Waiver program and eligibility process.
  • Crack down on deceptive marketing and bad business practices, to ensure families know up front the kind of care their loved ones will receive.
  • Clarify the right of family members to place a camera in the room of their loved ones to monitor care. The Governor's proposals would also strengthen the right to know about allegations of abuse for both families and the public, to ensure allegations are being investigated fully and so that other families can make informed decisions about where to place their loved ones into care.
  • expand the rights of older and vulnerable adults living in assisted living settings and their families, and increase the capacity of the Office of the Ombudsman for Long-Term Care to protect these rights. 

Dayton called on AARP Minnesota to help study the problem of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state last year after multiple reports of abuse.

In addition, Dayton had directed the Departments of Health and of Human Services to work together to reduce the backlog of pending reports and allegations, as well as improve the operations of the Office of Heath Facility Complaints.

The OHFC has now eliminated the backlog of more than 2,300 previously un-reviewed complaints, and has completed 448 investigations into privately-owned residential care facilities since January 1st. 

This has been partly due to a new interim system, which electronically processes more than 400 complaints received each week, which was started in February.

New protections could be coming for Minnesota's most vulnerable citizens.

Gov. Mark Dayton and other state lawmakers plan to announce Tuesday new proposals for protecting the health and safety of seniors and vulnerable adults. 

This comes a week after a scathing report criticized a state agency tasked with investigating allegations of maltreatment by nursing homes and other care facilities. That report said the Office of Health Facility Complaints, "has not met its responsibilities to protect vulnerable adults in Minnesota." 

Dayton plans to make his announcement at 11 a.m.

We'll bring you the latest as it is made available.

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