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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Upendra Chivukula, Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver, Joan M. Quigley and Angel Fuentes to protect the rights of senior citizens living in a state housing program has been signed into law.
The law (A-905) establishes a bill of rights for those receiving services under the Congregate Housing Services Program, which is a state-funded program in the Department of Health and Senior Services providing meal preparation, housekeeping, shopping, laundry, linens change, companionship and personal care to frail, elderly residents.
“We must always strive to do our best when it comes to caring for our most vulnerable, and with this bill we would make it clear that that must always be our goal,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex).
“These senior citizens are among our vulnerable residents, and we must ensure that we always treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic).
“This may seem like common sense, but unfortunately we sometimes must emphasize that our frailest senior citizens deserve our very best,” said Quigley (D-Hudson).
“It is our responsibility to ensure that our elderly residents are taken care of in this stage of their lives. They paved the road for us, now it is our turn to return the favor,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester).
The law requires the state to ensure that a person in the program receives services in a manner that promotes the dignity of and shows respect for the person.
Also, the program must make information related to its services available to the manager of a subsidized housing facility that has contracted with state to provide a Congregate Housing Services Program. The manager will be responsible for the distribution and dissemination of the information to its residents and must include in that information a statement that the services provided by the program are to be provided to:
· help meet the needs of a resident;
· foster the independence and individuality of a resident;
· treat a resident with respect, courtesy, consideration, and dignity; and
· assure a resident the right to make choices with respect to services and lifestyle.
The law also requires a Congregate Housing Services Program to advise a resident receiving services, in writing, of the availability of information from the Division of Aging and Community Services in DHSS about issues that may be of concern to a resident; and make available, upon request, the qualifications of a counselor or other professional who is providing congregate housing services.