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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

January 31, 2011

Take Action Now to Save CLASS!

The House will vote TOMORROW to end the CLASS long-term care services program without offering an alternative. CLASS is a voluntary, fiscally responsible program that would provide a cash benefit to people needing care at home, regardless of income or pre-existing conditions. Though it is not perfect, it is a critical first step to build upon. Without CLASS, millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and their families will be forced to spend-down their life savings, go too soon into expensive nursing homes, and overburden caregivers.

Tell your representative to vote NO on CLASS repeal HR 1171!

Call 1-855-218-2109 to talk to your representative and take action TODAY!

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Home Care Consumers Nationwide Invited to Share Their Experience

The Consumer Voice is working with a number of organizations across the country to improve the quality of home care in California, New Mexico, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia and nationwide. We can’t accomplish this without hearing directly from the people who are actually receiving services and care at home. To do that we are seeking home care consumers from across the country who are willing share their experiences. We want to know what consumers think makes for good care and services at home.

If you are a consumer receiving services or supports in your home from a paid caregiver and are interested in sharing your ideas, or if you know of a consumer interested in sharing their ideas, there are two easy and convenient ways for consumers to get involved:

1. Participate in a short (30 minute) phone interview. Someone will call the consumer at a time that is good for them and ask a few questions. If interested, contact Alia Murphy, Associate, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at 202-332-2275 ext. 222 or amurphy@theconsumervoice.org.

2. Take a short (30 minute) survey online or print a hard-copy version to fill out and return to the Consumer Voice.

Participation will not affect your care or any benefits you receive; all feedback will be kept confidential unless you give permission to share your information. Information from consumers will be used to write an important report for policymakers with recommendations about how to make home care better in California, New Mexico, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia and nationwide.

More information about sharing consumer experiences or becoming a volunteer to conduct consumer interviews is available on the Consumer Voice website.

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Chairman Bernie Sanders Introduces Older Americans Act Reauthorization

On Wednesday, January 26th, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which includes provisions for the improvements to the long-term care ombudsman program and support for Meals on Wheels and other essential programs. Both NASOP and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care are supporting the reauthorization bill.

For more information, visit Senator Sanders’ website.

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Kathy Greenlee Receives Award from SAGE

Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the US Department of Health and Human Services, received the Excellence in Aging Award from Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). The award, given by SAGE in partnership with The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, honors organizations and individuals committed to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. The award was presented at the Creating Change conference in Baltimore, Maryland on January 27, 2012.

"SAGE is proud to honor Assistant Secretary Greenlee for her unswerving commitment to improve the quality of life for all older people, including LGBT elders across the country," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "This inclusive approach, which embraces LGBT older people as an important part of the nation's aging mosaic, cannot be taken for granted—in fact it is the essence of leadership. Assistant Secretary Greenlee's insistence on including LGBT older people in the U.S. Administration on Aging's vision for supporting those elders in greatest economic and social need is making a tremendous difference for the LGBT community all across the country. SAGE and our constituents are profoundly grateful."

For more information, visit SAGE’s website.

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Florida Lawmakers Unveil Bills to Reform Homes for Elderly and Mentally Ill

With rampant abuse across the state and reports of frail elders living in squalor and dangerous conditions, Florida legislators have introduced dual bills that would crack down on elder abuse across the state.

“[The state] wasn’t doing its job,” said Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat and vice chair of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. “They were not enforcing the regulations, and not closing down facilities that didn’t correct the violations and abuse.”

The bills would shut down homes when residents die from poor care and ban the caretakers from the industry. It would also strip some power from Florida’s regulator, the Agency for Health Care Administration, which has drawn fire for failing to close troubled homes, even after caretakers were found abusing residents to death.

For more information, read the article in the Miami Herald.

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Articles in The Gerontologist Provide Insight on Consistent Assignment and Staff Provision of Choice

The latest edition of The Gerontologist had two important articles. The first, “The Influence of Consistent Assignment on Nursing Home Deficiency Citations,” discussed a level of consistent assignment that is associated with lower numbers of deficiencies. The article also made the important distinction between the percentage of nursing homes that report using consistent assignment and the percentage that use consistent assignment at a level that is positively associated with fewer deficiency citations in quality of life and quality of care. It is important that facilities use consistent assignment at a level that makes a difference, not just being able to report that they do in fact use it.

The second article, “Resident-Directed Long-Term Care: Staff Provision of Choice during Morning Care,” contained a practical tool for facilities to use to see if residents are offered choices on an on-going basis. The article also provided research for the importance of offering self-determination to individuals in order for them to have quality of life and to thrive in an environment. The article suggested ways staff could continually offer residents choices without negatively impacting staff efficiency.

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Center for Health Statistics Releases 2010 Data Brief on Residential Care Facilities

The US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics has released a data brief entitled “Residential Care Facilities: A Key Sector in the Spectrum of Long-term Care Providers in the United States.” The brief presents national estimates of residential care facilities (RCFs) and compares characteristics and services by facility and size.

Some key findings include: In 2010, there were 31, 100 RCFs with 971,900 beds nationwide. About one half of RCFs were small facilities with 4-10 beds. The majority of RCF residents lived in large (52%) or extra-large (29%) RCFs.

For more information, read the full data brief.

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Misuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in California Highlighted in New York Times Article and CANHR's New Report

A recent New York Times article found that, according to recent state investigations, pharmacists in California responsible for reviewing the medication of patients routinely allowed inappropriate and potentially lethal prescriptions of antipsychotic medications and failed to correct other potentially dangerous drug irregularities. In 18 of the 32 investigations conducted in California nursing homes between May 2010 and June 2011, pharmacists failed to red-flag cases in which residents were inappropriately prescribed powerful antipsychotic medications. Pharmacists also overlooked or approved cases in which medications were prescribed at questionable levels or in unsafe combinations that could put patients at risk of seizures, accidents or even death, according to the public health department in California.

Illicit prescribing of antipsychotic drugs is emphasized in a report released by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) yesterday. CANHR’s report on the misuse of antipsychotic drugs found 147 violations in 24 facilities, an average of 6.1 deficiencies per facility. Forty-one different regulatory rules were violated. Most violations fell within three categories: failure to obtain informed consent from residents or their responsible parties for drugs; use of unnecessary drugs or drugs in excessive dosage; and deficient pharmaceutical consultant services.

Read the full report, In a Stupor: What California’s Antipsychotic Drug Collaborative Reveals about Illegal Nursing Home Drugging.

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Cuts to Medicaid Programs Avoided

Court proceedings in California and Louisiana upheld the right of elders and people with disabilities to receive care in their homes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In California, a preliminary injunction on January 19th blocked the state from enacting a 20 percent cut to the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which provides care to nearly 450,000 elders and people with disabilities who have Medicaid.

If ever enacted, the IHSS budget cut would cause 372,000 IHSS consumers to see reductions in home care services, possibly forcing them into nursing homes or other institutions.

For more information, read the full article from PHI.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to swells@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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