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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

July 19, 2011

Consumer Voice Launches New eAdvocacy Tools

The Consumer Voice is pleased to announce it now able to provide new online e-advocacy tools and features to provide its members and other long-term care advocates. These features include the ability to contact members of Congress directly through the Consumer Voice website, send letters to the editor and sign and circulate online petitions.

Continue to watch www.theconsumervoice.org as we roll out these exciting new features. We are currently asking advocates to show their support by signing an online statement opposing cuts to Medicaid and other changes that would undermine quality nursing home standards. Show your support now! Also, be sure to sign up for the new Consumer Voice Action Network.

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Missouri Nursing Home Struck by Tornado Serves as Reminder of Need for Emergency Preparedness

On May 22, a category five tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. Among those affected were the residents and staff of Greenbriar Nursing Home, which was destroyed during the storm.

The tornado killed 159 people, and at least 16 of them were at Greenbriar – the nursing home had the single highest fatalities of any location in Joplin. On the night of the tornado, about 80 residents and 20 staff members were present.

Groups like the American Health Care Association are now looking to Greenbriar to study possible safety improvements that could be made to tornado planning and preparedness procedures. Other area nursing homes are also discussing ways to improve their own tornado evacuation procedures. According to federal regulations, skills nursing facilities must have written plans and procedures to respond to emergency situations and disasters.

Read more about need for emergency preparedness as well as experiences from Greenbriar residents, staff and family members in the July 16 Joplin Globe articleNursing home residents, staff had no place to go.”

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U.S. Attorney in Kentucky Files Complaint on Nursing Home "Worthless" Services

According to a recent news article, a civil complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged an Erlanger, Kentucky, nursing home - Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation - provided worthless services, causing injuries and the death of five residents. It is the first suit filed in Kentucky where the government alleges a nursing home defrauded of Medicare and Medicaid by submitting bills for reimbursement while also providing poor care to residents.

The complaint claims between 2004 and 2008 multiple residents had serious injuries, resulting in five deaths. The complaint also claims failure to follow physicians’ orders, failure to update resident care plans, failure to treat wounds and pressure sores and failure to monitor the blood sugar levels of diabetic residents.

If found liable, nursing home officials would face penalties between $5,500 and $11,000 for each false claim. Nursing home officials would also have to repay three times the amount of the government’s loss for the fraud to Medicare and Medicaid. The complaint accuses the nursing home of violating the federal False Claims Act.

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Hawaii Allows Less-Skilled Substitute Caregivers in Adult Foster Homes

Hawaii recently passed a law changing the main qualification for secondary caregivers in adult foster homes. Under the new law, adult foster homes authorized to have three clients can substitute caregivers who provide less than five hours of care daily or 28 hours weekly – rather than certified nurse aides. Additionally, substitute caregivers are required to have one-year experience in a home care setting and the annual continuing education requirement is increased from eight hours to 12. The minimum for substitute caregivers is also raised from 18 to 21.

While these changes may be seen by the long-term care industry as necessary to the economic health of adult family homes in Hawaii, advocates are concerned about the quality of care in those settings, said a recent Star Advertiser article. Hawaii previously required all substitute caregivers to be at least CNAs. Currently, more than a third of the nearly 1,000 adult foster homes in Hawaii are certified to provide care for three residents. This number is expected to grow with this new legislation, which would expire in 2013.

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Maryland Volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman Recognized by White House for Dedication to Service

Ombudsmen Volunteers and Others at White House EventPearl Hunt, a volunteer long-term care ombudsman in Maryland since 2004, was recognized at a White House event July 13 that honored senior volunteers. According to Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Hunt, along with six other volunteers recognized, represented "thousands of seniors who donate over two billion dollars worth of time annually to over 65,000 organizations." Hunt has devoted an average of over 40-50 hours per week worth of service to over 100 residents of a nursing home she visits regularly. Hunt spoke of the love she has for visiting long-term care residents and the problem of the commonality of abuse and neglect such settings. Hunt works with residents and family members, helping them solve problems; she has a long history of service. In 1961, she attended the first White House Conference on Aging as a nursing home administrator advocating for regulation and nursing home reform. Hunt, in her 80’s, remains an advocate for long-term care reform and a valued member of her community.

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State of Delaware and U.S. DOJ Reach Settlement Agreement to Develop Model Mental Health System

The state of Delaware and the U.S. Department of Justice recently came upon a settlement agreement, outlining how Delaware will provide mental health services to persons with severe and persistent mental illness.

The agreement resolves a three-year investigation done by the Department of Justice of the Delaware Psychiatric Center (DPC). The agreement outlines how mental health services will be provided to persons with severe and persistent mental illness; the approach is based on providing services to people in the community so better outcomes can be achieved for persons with mental health concerns and people’s independence and sense of community are protected.

Under the agreement, persons treated in the DPC and similar facilities will have the option to be placed in less-restrictive and medically appropriate settings. The agreement also requires individuals admitted to DPC work with the state in developing individualized recovery plans. Specialized transition teams will be used to work with each individual to identify the community services needed to move to less-restrictive settings. The state also will work to prevent unnecessary institutionalization of persons by developing a strong, state-wide mental health crisis system. The community-based mental health services will expand; for example, inpatient services require a multi-disciplinary approach. Finally, the state will develop a system of support for individuals with mental health problems.

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Survey for Personal Assistant Services Users

The Center on Disability the Public Health Institute along with the Center for Personal Assistance Services at University of California, San Francisco is conducting a research study to determine promising practices in preparing for emergencies among individuals with disabilities who use personal assistance services (PAS). If you use PAS and have been through an emergency or disaster, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZTXYZ69 to describe your experiences. By completing the complete the short survey, you will be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card. Contact Lewis Kraus, project director at deputy@adapacific.org, with questions. If you need help completing the survey, call (510) 285 5600

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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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