Straight Talk

AB 1523 - Mandatory Liability Insurance Takes Effect Today 7/1/15

CARR-sponsored AB 1523, requiring all assisted living facilities in California to carry liability insurance, went into effect today 7/1/15.  This legislation, co-authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, closed a 30 year old regulatory gap.  

Prior to its passing last August, CARR's research found that approximately 87% of San Diego RCFEs elected to not carry liability insurance, despite caring for frail, dependent seniors.  CARR believes this marks a major step forward for consumer protections inside assisted living facilities.  CARR encourages seniors and their families to ask for proof of liability insurance when considering a facility for placement.

To read the state's implementing language, visit http://www.ccld.ca.gov/res/pdf/15APX-04.pdf.

San Diego County Awards Contract to CARR for Development of Assisted Living Rating System

"CARR is honored to be the County of San Diego's vendor entrusted with developing a fair rating system deserving the confidence of the public and providers." --Chris Murphy, CARR's Executive Director

SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 5, 2015 -- The County of San Diego, Aging & Independence Services awarded Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR) a fixed price contract for a pilot project to create a rating system for the County's assisted living facilities, and to develop a consumer-friendly website to display the ratings and facility information.  The pilot program is a six-month effort with a current contract value of $50,000.

CARR's Work Recognized By Alma Mater, San Diego State University

CARR is pleased to be featured in SDSU's NewsCenter this week, "Heroines for the Elderly".  To view the article, click here.  It is our hope that this mention inspires more committed interns and members of the community to join our cause.

CARR Contributes To Discussion On Perceptions of Aging

"Why is there a drastic difference in people's perceptions of aging versus reality?"  This was the question recently put to 44 experts in the field of aging by SeniorCare.com.  They compiled these responses to produce the report, American's Misconception On Aging. CARR was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the contributors, alongside Dr. Bill Thomas, the SCAN Foundation and the American Health Care Association.  Below are some of the key findings and an excerpt from our contribution.  The entire report may be viewed here.

Key Findings from the report included:

UPDATE: AB 1122 (Brown) Excluded Persons & Administrative Action List (EPAAL)

You can already determine whether your doctor, veterinarian, attorney or hairdresser have breached the public trust and violated licensing regulations, via publicly available lists on state agency websites.  CARR would like to see the same transparency provided for consumers of long-term care services.  EPAAL will do just that.  But, CARR cannot be the only voice.  We need your help and support to get AB 1122 passed . . . but just not this legislative session.  AB 1122 has officially morphed into a '2-year bill.'  And here's why:

Our bill, carried by Cheryl Brown (D - San Bernardino), chair of the Long-Term-Care and Aging Assembly committee shelved AB 1122 until February 2016.  It was her view that there were issues and language in AB 1122 that must be negotiated with other stakeholders, and that those issues could not be resolved timely to support both Human Services and Long Term Care and Aging Assembly committee hearings during the current legislative session.  Therefore, CARR has another ten months to continue hammering out necessary accommodations.  

CARR Sole Sponser AB 1122 - Publish California's Excluded Persons/Administrative Action List (EPAAL)

Assembly Member Cheryl R. Brown (D - San Bernardino) introduced the “Excluded Persons Administrative Action List,” or ‘EPAAL’ legislation on Friday 27 February 2015. AB 1122 as it is now known, will require the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing (DSS/CCL) to publish on its website a list of all persons who have been excluded from owning, operating and/or working inside any licensed care facility as a result of an Administrative Law proceeding. 

AB 1122 will provide convenient online access to EPAAL, allowing assisted living residents, consumers and service providers to assure the caregivers and staff they hire have no prior history of behaviors which endangered the health or safety of an elder. 

There is no mandatory requirement for DSS/CCL to refer elder neglect, abuse or other egregious behaviors perpetrated against seniors residing in assisted living facilities to outside law enforcement, therefore few crimes perpetrated against elders in licensed care facilities are ever prosecuted.  Instead, through Administrative Law proceedings, DSS/CCL can permanently or temporarily prohibit a person from working in a licensed care facility.  Yet, because the individual was never brought to justice through the criminal court system, the administrative sanction does not appear in criminal background checks.  This makes continued access to vulnerable populations easy and significantly elevates the need for DSS/CCL to publish its list of excluded persons and related administrative actions.

Centralized CCL Complaint Hotline

Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division (DSS/CCLD) launched its new centralized complaint hotline this past week. The hotline's objective is to streamline the complaint process for consumers, and to assure information about complaints is consistently collected across all complaint report types.  Once a complaint is filed through the central call office, it is reviewed by a field-seasoned CCL inspector; within a few hours after the complaint has been reported, it is directed to the appropriate regional field office for investigation.  Once in the regional office, the agency must initiate its investigation within the 10-day regulatory time frame. 

The 8-4-4 number is toll free, so there is now one less impediment to filing a complaint - you don't have to pay for the call.  If its easier to email a complaint, the CCLD's new poster gives you the address:  LetUsNo@dss.ca.gov.  CARR encourages all family members, visitors in assisted living facilities, and reminds all mandated reporters to immediately report any event or circumstance endangering the health and safety of residents of assisted living facilities.  As the poster says. . . If you SEE something, SAY something.  

JD and Volunteer Intern, Eugene Willis, Jr., Shares File Review Experience

CARR co-founders can tell you what a terrific experience our internship program offers; but, it is more illustrative to hear from our actual interns.  Eugene Willis, Jr. connected with us via Linkedin this past fall and volunteered to do file surveillance for CARR on RCFEs in Nevada County.  Read on to learn more about Eugene's goals and discoveries: 

Volunteer Internship Experience with CARR Fall 2014, Nevada County File Review

This letter is to share my recent experience reviewing Nevada County RCFE files on behalf of Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR).   At the outset of this letter, I would like to thank Chris Murphy for the opportunity to join this outstanding organization and also the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division “DSS/CCLD” for their assistance in completing the file review.  The primary reasons I voluntarily participated in CARR’s internship program were to enhance my personal knowledge, as well as promote transparency and dissemination of material issues related to California’s RCFE industry.  RCFE residents are sometimes forgotten.  I completed law school specifically to give a voice to those who are forgotten.

Use CARR's "Facility Snapshots"* To Narrow Your Facility Search

Long-term care options require extensive research, research that few consumers have the time to do, especially when an immediate need occurs.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides consumers with decipherable icons and easy access to compliance histories for skilled nursing facilities; however, this type of data is still not provided for consumers of assisted living services.  CARR was founded in 2009 to begin to fill this void and is currently the only public charity in California providing consumers unbiased, online access to the compliance histories for assisted living facilities.

But....poring over individual public documents is quite time-consuming (we should know) and, to the untrained eye, may provide limited assistance when attempting to initially narrow down a facility search.  To ease this burden for the consumer, CARR has partnered with San Diego County’s Aging and Independence Services, to provide "Facility Snapshots"* on the assisted living facilities in the region.  (AIS-sponsored Facility Snapshot's are denoted on our site by this green icon). 

Governor Brown Signs 10 RCFE Bills

While this incremental reform is a step in the right direction, it is certainly not the sweeping structural changes advocates were hoping for at the beginning of the legislative session.  The impact of all of these bills is now in the hands of an already over-burdened Department of Social Services, whose track record suggests limited ability to enforce compliance and to influence improved quality of care. However, this flurry of attention and activity should signal to the industry that the veil has been lifted.  The writing on the wall says advocates and consumers will be demanding more.

The Governor signed the following bills today: 

* AB 1570 by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata): Increases training requirements for licensees and direct care staff of residential care facilities for the elderly.

* AB 1751 by Assemblymember Richard H. Bloom (D-Santa Monica): Requires resident representation on governing boards of residential care facilities for the elderly and quarterly reporting of financial statements.

* AB 1899 by Assemblymember Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino): Prohibits the reinstatement of a license for licensees of residential care facilities for the elderly who abandon a facility, resulting in a threat to the residents’ health and safety.

* AB 2044 by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona): Enacts additional staffing and health and safety requirements at residential care facilities for the elderly.