Lawmakers Unveil 12 Bills To Improve Assisted-Living Facility Care


On Monday, state lawmakers announced 12 bills aimed at improving care at assisted-living centers across California, U-T San Diego reports.

The bills come in response to a recent investigation that found that many assisted-living facilities that have been fined for medical errors have remained in operation without paying the penalties (Schoch/Gardner, U-T San Diego, 1/13).

Background on the Investigation

The investigation was conducted by U-T San Diego in partnership with the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. CHCF publishes California Healthline.

After analyzing 7,000 state records of assisted-living center inspections, the investigators identified a variety of problems, including:

  • Employees being discouraged from reporting medical mistakes;
  • Failure to schedule medical appointments for residents when ordered by a doctor;
  • Housing residents who needed a higher level of care than staff could provide;
  • Insufficient staffing;
  • Medication errors, including administering incorrect medicine or dosages;
  • Staff ignoring or not treating residents' symptoms; and
  • Unsafe medicine storage.

The investigation found that most of the errors were caused by:

  • Poor oversight by staff; or
  • Lack of training for staff.

Investigators noted that the California Department of Social Services -- which licenses and regulates assisted-living centers -- does not track medical errors at the facilities.

The investigation also found that only half of the $2.9 million in fines levied against assisted-living facilities since July 2007 has been collected by the state. Meanwhile, hundreds of facilities that have unpaid fines remain licensed and continue to operate (California Healthline, 12/16/13).

Details of the Bills

In an effort to remedy some of the problems outlined in the investigation, lawmakers proposed a dozen bills that would overhaul residential care facilities for the elderly, or RCFEs. The measures included in the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 would:

In addition, the package of bills would require assisted-living facilities to obtain liability insurance (Schoch/Gardner, U-T San Diego, 1/13).


The measures are supported by several advocacy groups, including the:

  • California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform;
  • Consumer Federation of California; and
  • Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform in San Diego (CANHR release, 1/13).
Pat Leary, deputy director at the state DSS, called the bills "a major step forward in rebuilding [the DSS Community Care Licensing Division's] capacity to deal with existing facilities and start on the next generation of what both (assisted-living centers) and other community care facilities need to look like in the future" (Schoch/Gardner, U-T San Diego, 1/13).
John Brown
By raising the cost of in home care, the state is forcing seniors into these substandard facilities. What happens when the state hits capacity?

to share your thoughts on this article.