Vulnerable Elders Face Scare Not Care
In 2017, the Star Tribune published a five-part special report, Left To Suffer. It stated that each year hundreds of Minnesotans are beaten, sexually assaulted or robbed in senior care facilities. These cases are seldom investigated and families of victims are left in the dark about what happened.
The Minnesota State Department of Health (DOH) has broad powers to correct these cases but the Minnesota State Auditor’s 2018 report stated that the DOH system routinely breaks down. The result is that the nearly 60,000 Minnesotans who now live in these senior care facilities (assisted living) are deprived the protection of law.
Additionally, the number of Minnesotans in assisted living facilities has doubled in the last ten years while these facilities operate with little or no state regulations.
Both the 2018 Legislature and the governor separately worked on plans to rectify this crisis. The Legislature’s plan included increasing fines for violation of senior rights and protection against deceptive marketing.
Based on recommendations from senior care advocates and the Legislative Auditor’s report, the governor proposed a plan calling for licensing assisted living facilities and strengthening protection for seniors facing eviction and criminal sanctions against abusers.
Governor Dayton vetoed the Omnibus Spending Bill, which included some senior care provisions. The governor and other advocates thought the senior care provisions didn’t go far enough and Elder Voice Family Advocates described them as “weak”.
The 2019 session is next chance to enact senior care legislation. In the meantime, the overall backlog of abuse complaints was reduced by 88 percent and the MN Health Department’s Office of Health Facility Complaints implemented an electronic case management system.
Fortunately, there are strong and devoted advocates pushing for passage of meaningful elder care legislation. Some of these are:
- Elder Voice Family Advocates, a grass roots coalition of family members of loved ones who have been abused
- Minnesota Elder Justice Center, a non-profit, which provides information and resources to older and vulnerable adults on issues of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation,
- AARP Minnesota
- Alzheimer’s Association MN-North Dakota
At the December 4th Civic Buzz, we welcome guest speakers:
- Kris Sandberg, President of the Elder Voice Family Advocates
- Sean Burke, Public Policy Director of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center.
Let’s find out what LWVMpls and LWVMN can do to educate ourselves and others in order to support meaningful reforms in senior care.
In one form or another senior care affects us all.