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March 24, 2015

Tell Congress to Remove Harmful Provision for Residents in SGR Bill

We need your help! Bipartisan bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would offer a permanent solution for the reimbursement formula used to determine Medicare physician payment rates (called the “sustainable growth rate” or SGR).  However, these bills include an extremely harmful provision for nursing home residents. The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Acts of 2015 (H.R. 1470 and S. 2000) both contain a "standards of care" provision that would make it more difficult for violations of important federal quality of life and quality of care standards - such as residents' rights, nurse staffing, or assessment and care planning - to be used to establish a legal case of negligence against a facility. Ask your member to exclude nursing homes from this provision today!

The ability to hold substandard facilities accountable through the civil justice system for cases of poor care, neglect and abuse is essential for quality nursing home care. Government studies have repeatedly shown that state inspection agencies fail to penalize facilities for harming residents, even when they find serious injuries, and many problems are never cited at all. Often the courts are the only branch of government that holds nursing homes responsible for their actions. By making it more difficult to use the federal requirements to establish a case of negligence against poor facilities and for these standards to be admissable into evidence, consumers’ ability to seek justice and accountability would be severely weakened.

Please help us defeat this provision by asking your members of Congress to exclude nursing home residents from this provision in the SGR fix legislation. It is quick and easy - just enter in your zip code and information here, and a letter will be provided for you to send.

The House vote is scheduled for Thursday, so take action ASAP!

We appreciate your advocacy!

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Op-Ed on Informed Consent in Connecticut

Long-term care advocate Paul Caron has written an op-ed piece in the CT Mirror.  The article discusses the issue of informed consent and the use of psychotropic medications in nursing homes.  Caron argues that it just makes sense that a relative or legal representative be contacted by a physician when a person is not able to make medical decisions on their own.   Caron says, "We have a responsibility to protect these elders from harm and assure that they receive the best care possible.  The Connecticut General Assembly should act swiftly to pass an informed consent law to honor our elders."  Read the full article here.

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Celebrate with Us!

We are pleased to announce that 2015 marks our 40th anniversary, and we invite you to join us in celebrating “40 years of making care matter!”

The traditional 40th anniversary gift is a ruby and we know that YOU and the consumers, long-term care ombudsmen, family members, citizen advocates, providers, and others in our network are the true gems for supporting our work and advocacy over the last four decades.

In the coming months, we will highlight Consumer Voice’s Gems and milestones from the last 40 years. Our Gems include individuals, organizations, and special moments that have made a significant impact on our organization’s development, mission, and advocacy.

There will be several opportunities for you to share in the celebration via social media, our website, and in-person, so pay attention to your inbox, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to join the fun!

Visit our 40th Anniversary webpage for additional information.

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National Nursing Home Social Work Network Offering Four Webinars This Spring

The National Nursing Home Social Work Network is offering the following four webinars this spring!  There is no cost to participate; however, registration is required.

The POLST Paradigm in Nursing Homes
Tuesday April 7, 3:00pm eastern (2:00pm central)

Supervising Social Work Field Students in Nursing Homes
Wednesday April 22, 3:30pm eastern (2:30pm central)

Achieving Cultural Competence for the Younger Adult in the Long Term Care Setting (two part series)
Note! You must register for Part 1 and Part 2 separately.
Register for PART 1 (May 7th 2pm eastern/ 1pm central)
Register for PART 2 (June 20th 3pm eastern/2pm central).

For more information, click here.

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National Guardianship Network Names State Courts for WINGS Awards

The National Guardianship Network (NGN) has announced five new awards of seed monies and technical assistance to states to create innovative, consensus-driven Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS).  After receiving applications from the highest courts in a number of states, NGN selected five states:  

  • The District of Columbia Courts
  • The Supreme Court of Indiana
  • The Supreme Court of Minnesota
  • The Mississippi Supreme Court
  • The Washington State Supreme Court
Each of these state courts will receive up to $7,000 in financial support to launch a WINGS court-community partnership; and each will receive NGN technical assistance.

In addition, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has announced the creation of a broad-based Wisconsin WINGS group, with a Summit scheduled for May 27th in Madison.

For more information, read the press release.

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Avoid Use of Benzodiazepine Drugs as well as Antipsychotics

Effective and timely treatment of pain is a critical issue in long-term care, yet danger can occur when benzodiazepine medications are prescribed alone or in combination with pain treatments such as opioid drugs. An article in the April 2014 issue of the Annals of Long-Term Care highlights the increasing prescription of both benzodiazepine and opioid drugs in the U.S.

The article reports that in more than 50% of deaths attributed to use of analgesics, including opioid pain killers, more than one drug was involved; benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or insomnia are often cited as the second drug.  

The article states that “Although the focus of the study was on ambulatory patients being seen in primary care practices, studies focusing on long-term care populations have reported similar findings. A cross-sectional analysis of the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey reported that benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to nursing home residents, often without an appropriate indication for their use. More recently, the 2012 American Geriatrics Society Updated Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults reported that short-, intermediate-, and long-acting benzodiazepines should not be used to treat insomnia, agitation, or delirium in elderly persons due to the high risk of adverse effects associated with these agents, including falls, fractures, cognitive impairment, and delirium.”

Consumers should ask a pharmacist, RN, director of nursing, physician, physician assistant or medical director if any of their medications are classified as benzodiazepines. If so, the consumer should ask for alternatives, including behavioral treatments.

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Americans with Disabilities Act National Network Learning Session on Emergency Preparedness Issues

Join the Pacific ADA Center Thursday, April 9th at 2:30pm ET for an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network Learning Session entitled "Looking at Power Issues from 2 Perspectives: a Utility and the American Red Cross."  This webinar covers existing, new and emerging protective practices, misconceptions, ongoing challenges and preparedness issues from two perspectives: a public utility and the American Red Cross.  Register for free here.

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Briefly Noted...

  • The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation is accepting Letters of Intent from researchers for projects that can improve the quality of care and the quality of life for the elderly in nursing homes or other care facilities. Read more here.

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Spotlight on Giving: Get Active for Consumer Voice

You can raise funds for Consumer Voice by participating in any local walk or run event and asking friends or families to "sponsor" you for a specific amount or an amount per mile or kilometer.  You can ask that they make a pledge and they can donate online at  https://theconsumervoice.org/donate-to-consumer-voice. Let us know and we will track your contributions.

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Spotlight on Educational Resources

The Consumer Voice and the National Ombudsman Resource Center have a multitude of resources available online covering a wide range of long-term care topics.  Visit the Consumer Voice website and the NORC website to explore all the available resources.  Take a look at this week's highlighted resource:

NORC Library - Federal Regulations  - On NORC's website, visit the Federal Regulations section of the Library page for updated legislation and overviews of important information.  Most recently, find information on the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Final Rule and read an overview.

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In this Issue

Tell Congress to Remove Harmful Provision for Residents in SGR Bill

Celebrate with Us!

National Nursing Home Social Work Network Offering Four Webinars This Spring

National Guardianship Network Names State Courts for WINGS Awards

Avoid Use of Benzodiazepine Drugs as well as Antipsychotics

Op-Ed on Informed Consent in Connecticut

American with Disabilities Act National Network Learning Session on Emergency Preparedness Issues

Briefly Noted...

Spotlight on Giving: Get Active for Consumer Voice

Spotlight on Educational Resources

4.1 It CAN Be Done!

As part of our nursing home staffing campaign, Better Staffing: The Key to Better Care, Consumer Voice is advocating for a minimum of 4.1 hours of nursing care per resident per day.  To show your support of this campaign, individuals can send us a photo with the slogan "4.1 - It CAN Be Done" by tweeting us pictures @ConsumerVoices, posting on our Facebook or emailing your photos to info@theconsumervoice.org.  Get the word out and encourage consumers to participate by sending in their photos too!

Calendar of Events

Tuesday, April 7: The POLST Paradigm in Nursing Homes, 3:00pm ET, Nursing Home Social Work Webinar Series

Thursday, April 9: Looking at Power Issues from 2 Perspectives: a Utility and the American Red Cross, 2:30pm ET, ADA National Network Learning Session

April 20-22: HealthCare Chaplaincy Network's Caring for the Human Spirit Conference, Orlando, FL

Wednesday, April 22: Supervising Social Work Field Students in Nursing Homes, 3:30pm ET, Nursing Home Social Work Webinar Series

Wednesday April 29: Delivering Your Message in Person: The Nuts and Bolts of Meeting with a Key Decision Maker, Advocacy skills training webinar from the Consumer Voice

Tuesday, May 5: Achieving Cultural Competence for the Younger Adult in the Long-Term Care Setting - Part One, 2:00pm ET, Nusing Home Social Work Webinar Series

Wednesday, June 10: Achieving Cultural Competence for the Younger Adult in the Long Term Care Setting - Part Two, 3:00pm ET, Nursing Home Social Work Webinar Series

Tuesday, June 30: Delivering Your Message: Utilizing Both Traditional Approaches and Social Media, Advocacy skills training webinar from the Consumer Voice

Thursday, August 27: How to Grow, Support, and Activate Your Network, Advocacy skills training webinar from the Consumer Voice

October: Residents' Rights Month, CARE Matters

November 5-7, 2015: Consumer Voice 39th Annual Conference, Crystal City, Virginia

Your Car Can Help Promote Quality Care

Do you, a loved one or friend have a car that you or they would like to dispose of?  Now, Consumer Voice can help – and your used car can help Consumer Voice!  By working with our car disposal agency, Vehicle Donation to Any Charity (V-DAC), the proceeds from the sale of your car become a contribution to Consumer Voice.  

Note: We are actually registered with the service as “NCCNHR” so when asked which charity you would like to benefit, just say or type in “NCCNHR.”

Here is a link to our page on the V-DAC site http://v-dac.com/org?id=52-1122531 and you can get started there – or just call 877-999-8322 toll free.   And to discuss your donation with Consumer Voice, just write to us at info@theconsumervoice.org or call (202) 332-2275 x209

Join the conversation and follow us on social media!

Last Week's Most Popular Post:

Wednesday, March 18:
The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a Consumer Voice supported bill proposing to require hospitals to tell you your observation status, a step in the right direction.

Last Week's Most Popular Tweet:

Friday, March 20
#PALTC15: Systemic problem in Nursing Homes, Nursing assessment is different from medical assessment used by docs who use ICD-9 codes

Long-Term Care Resources & News

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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 below. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to info@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2015.

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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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