ST. PAUL, Minn. – A task force convened by Governor Mark Dayton to address an elder abuse crisis in Minnesota has returned wide-ranging recommendations for change.
“The problems in the regulatory system demand immediate and dramatic fixes,” the report says.
The group, which includes the AARP, family advocate groups Elder Voice and the Minnesota Elder Justice Center and the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota, called on policy makers to give families and seniors more tools to combat abuse. They want enhanced investigation and enforcement by state regulators, stronger criminal statutes and greater transparency for families of seniors who’ve been victimized.
KARE 11 Investigates has documented problems in the investigation of elder abuse in senior facilities for a year now. Many of the issues uncovered by KARE’s reports are highlighted in the report to the governor.
Among the key recommendations is providing more transparency to families when abuse is reported. Right now, the Minnesota Department of Health does not allow victims and families to view reports made about abuse and neglect of their loved ones. The work group calls for allowing access to those complaints.
They also want new laws enacted that clarify a resident’s right to place a camera in their room and stronger anti-retaliation laws.
The group also calls for stronger criminal enforcement that would give prosecutors more tools to hold abusers responsible. As for civil penalties, the family advocates want lawsuits to continue even after the plaintiff dies.
Another key recommendation calls for a new Assisted Living license with a Dementia Certificate. According to the report, Minnesota is the only state that does not have a special license which determines a basic standard of care in Assisted Living facilities, many of which house vulnerable patients including those with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
After receiving the report, Governor Mark Dayton released a statement saying, “I am deeply troubled by the cases of maltreatment, neglect, and abuse that have taken place in some of Minnesota’s senior care facilities. I will closely review this report, and work with senior advocates, providers, and legislators to implement its recommendations in the upcoming session. We must and will do more to protect the health, safety, and dignity of all our state’s senior citizens.”
Elder abuse and the regulation of senior care facilities are likely to be a focus in the upcoming legislative session. Lawmakers heading key committees have pledged to tackle issues surrounding a backlog of thousands of complaints and lax investigation.