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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

June 21, 2011

New NORC Resource Available: Synchronicity Among Local and State Ombudsmen

At the 2010 Consumer Voice Annual Conference & Meeting, NORC filmed a breakout session entitled Synchronicity Among Local and State Ombudsmen, presented by Texas State Ombudsman Patty Ducayet and Director of the Dallas County Ombudsman Program Suzanna Swanson, LMSW. This video is now available on the NORC website, and NORC encourages all ombudsmen to watch the video. The video captures Ducayet and Swanson sharing experiences and examples of how local and state ombudsmen have successfully worked together and how communication can further shared program goals. The PowerPoint presentation and accompanying handouts from the breakout session are also available on the website.

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CMS Issues Guidance on Reporting Suspected Crimes in Long-Term Care Facilities

The 2010 health care reform law includes an Elder Justice Act provision that requires long-term care facilities that receive federal funds and their employees to report any reasonable suspicion of a crime against a resident to the state survey agency and local law enforcement. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a memorandum to state survey agencies explaining responsibilities of nursing homes, hospices that provide services in nursing homes, and Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded under the reporting law. Read more.

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Connecticut Ombudsman Program Releases Updated Training Video on Fear of Retaliation

The Connecticut State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program recently released an updated version of its training video Voices Speak Out Against Retaliation. The video was created to acknowledge that fear of retaliation is a reality for many nursing home residents and was prompted by a resident question at the 2005 VOICES Forum.

As a result of the forum, the ombudsman program initiated a statewide work group and commissioned the University of Connecticut Health Center to study the fear of retaliation in skilled nursing facilities. The study concluded retaliation and the fear of retaliation is a reality in any supportive housing situation. Retaliation can be apparent or subtle; many forms of retaliation may not be recognized by residents or staff.

Additionally, in Connecticut, a proposed bill, intending to ensure nursing home staff understand fear of retaliation and resources are available to prevent retaliation against residents, was presented to the State’s General Assembly in January 2011; however, it did not pass the General Assembly’s vote.

Ombudsmen programs are encouraged to use the video for training purposes.

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Elder Abuse Forum Held on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

On June 15 - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) - the bipartisan Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus hosted an Elder Abuse Forum at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. Congressman Poe (R-Texas), co-chair of the caucus, acknowledged the growing incidence of elder abuse and the importance of increasing awareness and responsiveness. The briefing examined how elder abuse is being addressed, its substantial cost and what steps need to be taken to more effectively prevent elder abuse and address the needs of elder abuse victims. Among others, the forum panelists included Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Joye Frost, acting director of the office for victims of crime, U.S. Department of Justice; Robert Blancato, national coordinator, Elder Justice Coalition; and Latifa Ring, founder, National Elder Abuse and Guardianship Victims Taskforce for Change. For more information on the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus and to get involved, visit http://vrc.poe.house.gov/.

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MetLife Releases Study on Elder Financial Abuse

The MetLife Mature Market Institute recently released The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation and Predation Against America’s Elders. A follow-up of MetLife’s 2009 Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances, the report gives an updated and detailed snapshot of elder financial abuse in America. The annual financial loss by victims of elder abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, a 12 percent increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2009. In particular, the study found over the period analyzed fraud was perpetrated mostly by strangers (51 percent), followed by family, friends and neighbors (34 percent). Victims were more likely women, typically aged 80 to 89, living alone and in need of some form of assistance for health or home care; perpetrators were more frequently men (60 percent), between the ages of 30 and 59. Financial abuse perpetrated by family, friends and neighbors were found to increase during holidays. The study is accompanied by a consumer guide: The Essentials: Preventing Elder Abuse and tips to prevent and avoid elder financial abuse.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and Virginia Tech, is available online.

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DCA Holds Congressional Briefing on Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act

On June 16, the Direct Care Alliance (DCA) held a congressional briefing and panel discussion on Capitol Hill for the Direct Care Quality Improvement Act of 2011 by Rep. Linda Sanchez and Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. The panel featured Rep. Sanchez; Linda Davis, a Wisconsin direct care worker; Dennis Fitzgibbons, disability rights advocate and executive director, Alpha One, Maine’s Center for Independent Living; and Katherine Cox, American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees.

The bill will be introduced later in the month and addresses issues affecting direct care workers and home care workers. Currently, home care workers are excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act, are not entitled to federal minimum wage and do not have overtime protections; the bill would eliminate this exclusion. The bill would also establish a monitoring program to collect information and data on the capacity and quality of the direct care workforce and long-term care settings to gauge abilities and readiness for the demographic shift in America in which 20 percent of the population will be over the age of 65 by 2030. Additionally, it will promote job creation in the direct care field by establishing a grant program for direct care workforce education, recruitment and retention.

For more information, visit the Direct Care Alliance website.

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NCLC Holds Webinar on Undue Influence in Elder Abuse

On June 8, the National Consumer Law Center, National Elder Rights Training Project held a webinar entitled The Role of the Undue Influence in Elder Abuse. Senior Attorney Lori Stiegel with the American Bar Association Commission on Law & Aging presented and spoke on the issue of “undue influence” in elder abuse; the purpose of the webinar was define undue influence, provide ways to identify a victim and perpetrator, identify intervention strategies, review capacity and consent related to undue influence and discuss legal options and share resources.

Stiegel quoted the psychological definition of undue influence as, “The use of power and control to exploit the trust, dependency and fear in order to substitute one persons will for the true desires of another persons.” As it pertains to elder abuse, Stiegel defined it as, “a method used to commit financial exploitation or sexual abuse.”

Stiegel also discussed how perpetrators can be career criminals, caregivers, friends or family members who try to befriend victims. Isolation, loneliness, illness, depression and dependency are all factors that can increase the risk of undue influence. In order to prevent undue influence and elder abuse, Stiegel recommended breaking the control of the perpetrator through guardianship, mental health commitment and other alternatives as well as considering legal actions to reverse any decisions made as a result of undue influence.

View the webinar or download the presentation online.

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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 rlivesay@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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