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Governor Dayton and AARP Minnesota Announce New Work Group on the Health and Safety of Minnesota Seniors

11/30/2017 5:01:20 PM

Independent work group will be led and convened by AARP Minnesota, in conjunction with other senior organizations, to provide guidance on how the state can better serve Minnesota seniors
 
Recommendations of the work group will inform legislative proposals ahead of 2018 Legislative Session
 
Among requested recommendations are strategies to protect the rights of residents and families, connect them to resources, and improve communication about allegations of abuse
 
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton and AARP Minnesota Director Will Philips today announced a new work group to provide guidance on steps the state should take to improve the health and safety of Minnesota seniors who are cared for in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The new, independent work group will be led and convened by the AARP, in conjunction with other organizations serving Minnesota seniors, and will provide its recommendations to state leaders ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session.
 
“I am deeply concerned by recent reports of maltreatment, neglect, and abuse taking place in those businesses, which families have entrusted for the care of their loved ones,” said Governor Dayton. “I believe the perspectives of seniors and their families should be at the center of the discussions, as we work to ensure that Minnesota laws protect our seniors. I thank AARP for agreeing to convene and lead this work group, and I am committed to proposing legislation next year to improve oversight of senior care and strengthen the rights of residents and their families.”
 
In a letter to Director Philips, Governor Dayton requests that the AARP-led work group also engage the expertise of other consumer-focused senior organizations in the work group process, including Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota, the Elder Justice Center, and Elder Voice Family Advocates. 
 
“Caring for its most vulnerable citizens is one of the greatest responsibilities of any state. AARP is honored that Governor Dayton asked us to lead this workgroup to better protect vulnerable adults and hold abusers accountable,” said AARP Minnesota Director Will Phillips. “We look forward to working with other consumer advocates and policy makers to identify key policy changes to better protect Minnesota seniors.”
 
Among the recommendations the work group may provide, Governor Dayton’s letter requests guidance for state leaders focused on the needs of seniors who are cared for in nursing home and assisted living settings, including:
 
·         Protecting the rights of residents and families and connect them to resources.
o    Review the current state and federal regulatory, licensing, compliance, and enforcement requirements, and recommend changes if these requirements are insufficient to deter potential abuse and protect seniors and families from retaliation from providers. 
o    Clarify and strengthen the statutory definitions of memory care, assisted living, and housing with services so consumers and families can make informed decisions on proper placement for seniors.
o    Recommend changes to current law to ensure that family members are informed about how to report suspected abuse and neglect, including the Minnesota Vulnerable Adults Reporting Center and the Ombudsman for Long Term Care. 
 
·         Improving communication with family members and law enforcement about allegations of abuse.
o    Recommend changes to current law to remove barriers and improve communication with family members when there is alleged abuse, including the complaints and investigations processes within the Office of Health Facility Complaints and self-reports from providers.
o    Recommend changes to current law ensure proper reporting to law enforcement about potential abuse.
 
Efforts Already Underway to Protect Seniors and Improve Care
Last session, Governor Dayton worked with the Legislature to secure new funding to increase staffing and resources at Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to more quickly respond to and investigate alleged abuse of vulnerable adults. The legislation also called for MDH to engage stakeholders in these improvements. The new work group will build off of the feedback gathered from MDH’s Request for Information from stakeholders, and the three listening sessions the agency held this fall, which engaged hundreds of seniors, families, and providers across Minnesota about senior care issues. 
 
The Administration is also taking immediate action to shorten the timeframe to respond to complaints and complete investigations into alleged abuse. MDH and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) are collaborating to implement a rigorous plan to improve processes and assessments of senior care and safety, based on the successful changes that DHS has made to their own licensing system. 
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