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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

October 23, 2012

Article in Biomedical Safety & Standards Highlights Dangers of Bed Rails

A recent article, “Safe Portable Bed Rails: There’s No Such Thing” in Biomedical Safety & Standards brought attention to the dangers of bed rails. Bed rails have been recommended by both families and physicians who may have little reason to suspect that the very products intended to make patients safer, and advertised as such, instead, make the bed far more dangerous. The FDA has reported more than 525 deaths associated with the use of bed rails. Dangers from bed rails include entrapment and falling. Given portable bed rails are sold directly to consumers and in medical supply stores, consumer groups think the Consumer Product Safety Commission and FDA, both of which have been petitioned for rulemaking repeatedly in these matters, should be taking action to regulate, force recalls, and effectively oversee marketing and sales of the devices.

Read the article in Biomedical Safety & Standards.

In September, the Consumer Voice along with Public Citizen sent the Federal Trade Commission a formal request to stop false advertising of bed rails. The request specifically asked to order Bed Handles Inc to stop making false claims of safety for its Bedside Assistant portable bed rails. The issue of bed rail safety is a top policy priority for the Consumer Voice and we look forward to bringing greater national attention to the issue.

For more information, visit the Consumer Voice’s website.

Residents' Rights Celebrated at Luncheon in DC

On October 19th the Consumer Voice co-hosted our annual Residents' Rights Month Luncheon with the D.C. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend a Friday with experts in the field and consumers themselves, in celebration of residents' rights! There were around 70 residents in attendance from the DC and Maryland regions. Genesis Cachedon of the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and Sara Cirba of the Consumer Voice served as co-Master of Ceremonies. Speakers included Lynne Person, Director of the DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program; our own Executive Director, Sarah Wells; Dr. John Thompson, Executive Director of DCOA; Honorable Mary Cheh, Councilmember, Ward 3; Rawle Andrew Jr., Regional Vice President, AARP; Louis Davis Jr., State Director, AARP DC; Becky Kurtz, Director, Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, ACL; and Jan May, Vice President of LCE. Speakers touched on what's happening at the Hill, why it's so important for seniors to vote, and other aging issues as well. 

One of the highlights of the luncheon was when residents got the opportunity to share their most memorable voting experiences and what being politically active means to them. As one resident put it, "Being politically active is like going to the bank. If you don't put anything in to it, you don't get anything out of it." The Consumer Voice truly enjoyed being involved in such an inspiring event and is already looking forward to next year's luncheon!

View photos from the luncheon on the Consumer Voice's Facebook page.

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Consumer Voice September "Technical Assistance" Graph

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care responds to hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and letters each year from consumers, their families and other advocates requesting “technical assistance” on a range of issues. We review the topic areas of these communications to inform our policy work and educational resources; through an improved tracking system, we are now happy to share with you the compilation of requests we receive each month, starting with September 2012: View the graph.

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Consumer Voice Annual Business Meeting Held October 19th

Announcement of Newly Elected Board and Leadership Council Members

On October 19, 2012, the Consumer Voice leadership convened the Annual Business Meeting. This year, the meeting was held with voting member groups by teleconference. In previous and future years, business is conducted in conjunction with the Consumer Voice Annual Conference. The meeting provided member groups with an update on the organization’s activities in 2012, including presentations from: John Weir, Governing Board President, Bill Lamb, Governing Board President Elect, Sarah Slocum, Past Chair of the Leadership Council, Lisa Tripp, Leadership Council Chair, Robyn Grant, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lori Smetanka, Director, National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center and Sarah Wells, Executive Director. In addition to updates on Consumer Voice accomplishments and forthcoming projects, the newly elected members of the Governing Board and Leadership Council were announced. 

Governing Board 2013

John Weir, President
Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Kalamazoo County, MI
Bill Lamb, President Elect
UNC Institute on Aging, Raleigh, NC
Afsoon Namini, Vice President/Secretary
Aging and Development Consultant, Washington, DC
Paul van Westrienen, Treasurer
Parchment, MI
Mary Ellen Jacobs, RN, BSN, CCM, Member
Graceful Seniors, LLC, Toms River, NJ
Michael Koenig, Member
UVA Darden School of Business, Charlottesville, VA
Gail MacInnes, Member
PHI, Washington, DC
David L. McGuffey, Member
Elder Law Practice of David L. McGuffey, Dalton, GA

Leadership Council 2012-2013

Lisa Tripp, Chair
John Marshall Law School, Atlanta, GA
Deb Holtz, Vice Chair
Minnesota State Ombudsman Program, St. Paul, MN
Julie Pollock, Secretary
Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Anita, IA
Jessica Brill Ortiz, Member
Direct Care Alliance, Washington, DC
Michelle Brown, Member
MARC Department of Aging Services, Kansas City, MO
Brian Capshaw, Member
Statewide Coalition of Presidents of Resident Councils, East Hartford, CT
Eric Carlson, Member
National Senior Citizens Law Center, Los Angeles, CA
Claire Curry, Member
Civil Advocacy Program, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, VA
Toby Edelman, Member
Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., Washington, DC
Courtney Freels, Member
Maumee, OH
Donna Gillette, Member
Resource Center for Independent Living, Utica, NY
Wilmarie Gonzalez, Member
Pennsylvania Department of Aging, Harrisburg, PA
Beverley Laubert, Member
Ohio State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Columbus, OH
Brian Lee, Member
Families for Better Care, Tallahassee, FL
Dean Lerner, Member
Dean Lerner Consulting, Des Moines, IA
Steven Levin, Member
Levin & Perconti, Chicago, IL
Heather Porreca, Member
Denver Regional Council of Governments, Denver, CO
Penelope Ann Shaw, Member
Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (MANHR), Braintree, MA
Sarah Slocum, Member
Michigan State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Lansing, MI
Karen Stevens, Member
SWAN, Olney, IL
Patricia Warnick, Member
Northwest Interfaith Movement, Philadelphia, PA
Lydia Williams, Member
DC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Washington, DC

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Settlement Eases Medicare Rules for Some Elderly and Disabled

The Consumer Voice would like to offer congratulations to close friend and partner Center for Medicare Advocacy for its victory in a nation-wide class-action lawsuit to ease rules for some Medicare patients. The Obama administration has agreed to do away with a regulation that required many beneficiaries to show a likelihood of medical or functional improvements before Medicare would pay for skilled nursing and therapy services. Under the agreement, Medicare will pay for such services if they are needed to “maintain the patient’s current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration,” regardless of whether the patient’s condition is expected to improve. Federal officials agreed to rewrite the Medicare manual to clarify that Medicare coverage of nursing and therapy services is based on the beneficiary’s need for skilled care.

Judith A. Stein, director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said that the proposed settlement could help people with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other chronic conditions. “As the population ages and people live longer with chronic and long-term conditions, the government’s insistence on evidence of medical improvement threatened an ever-increasing number of older and disabled people,” she said.

For more information, read the article in the New York Times.

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Consumer Voice Shares Resources at Beacon 50+ Expo

The Consumer Voice recently partnered with the Montgomery County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to provide a resource table at the Resource Fair at the Beacon 50+ Expo on October 14th. The Consumer Voice provided information and materials on Residents’ Rights Month, reauthorizing the Older Americans Act, and the efforts to require consent for use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes.

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Survey Examines Turnover and Retention Rates of Assisted Living Workers

A recent study found that the overall retention rate for all assisted living employees in 2011 was 73%. The survey, conducted by the National Center for Assisted Living, LeadingAge, the Assisted Living Federation of America and the American Seniors Housing Association, surveyed 370 assisted living centers across the US. The average turnover rate for all workers was 25% with the highest rates being in food services and nursing staff.

A separate study conducted by My InnerView and the National Research Corporation found that assisted living workers expressed more dissatisfaction in areas such as comparison of pay, assistance with job stress and support from supervisors than nursing home workers.

For more information, read the article in McKnight’s.

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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