Beshear backs bills to protect seniors from abuse but doesn’t endorse minimum staffing for nursing homes

Gov. Steve Beshear today endorsed a package of previously introduced bills that he said would give the elderly and other adults more protection against abuse and exploitation, but it did not include a bill to set minimum staffing standards for nursing homes, the major measure sought by reformers. The legislation would:

  • Prevent people who abuse or neglect vulnerable or elderly adults from benefiting from their deaths (House Bill 52)
  • Keep a person convicted of felony abuse or exploitation of an adult from serving as that victim’s guardian, executor or power of attorney (HB 54)
  • Make it easier and more efficient for adults and seniors needing a guardian when more than one state is involved. (HB 164)
  • Require annual criminal background checks of staff at personal care agencies, a step beyond the pre-hiring check. (Senate Bill 23)
  • Require criminal background checks for all employees of nursing homes and assisted living homes, including custodians and food service workers (SB44)
  • Create an adult abuse registry (HB101 and SB 38)
Beshear noted that last year he implemented recommendations from a Cabinet for Health and Family Services report investigation of nursing home neglect and abuse and said “This legislation further strengthens safety standards and will make a significant difference in the lives of Kentucky’s elderly citizens and the people who care for them.” Beshear recently received the Better Life Government Involvement Award from the main nursing-home lobby, the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities.

Bernie Vonderheide of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform told Kentucky Health News, “We think Gov. Beshear is to be applauded for reacting decisively to reports by advocates and the media of abuse and neglect of our state’s senior citizens. We hope he will continue giving his attention to these serious matters. For example, he should also support legislation before the General Assembly that would set minimum staffing standards for nursing homes, one of the big causes of abuse and neglect among our seniors.”

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