Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Patrick Diegnan, Jr. and Benjie E. Wimberly to afford individuals with disabilities, and their families, greater oversight of their treatment was granted final legislative approval 39-0 by the full Senate on Thursday.
“Treatment programs and plans can be complicated and a lot for the average person to absorb all at once,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This will allow families and guardians to take a more thorough approach when deciding what’s right for their loved ones by having the opportunity to go back and review conversations and consult with a third party expert or other family members.”
Specifically, the bill (A-2431) provides that a person with a developmental disability, who resides in a facility, or the person’s legal guardian, when applicable, may use an audio recording device during a meeting, telephone call or face-to-face conversation with any member of the person’s interdisciplinary team and any psychiatrist contracted by the facility to provide consultation services. The bill stipulates that the individual or legal guardian must notify the other participants prior to the start of the meeting or conversation that a recording device will be used.
“For the average person, it can be overwhelming just trying to remember everything that was discussed during a routine doctor’s visit,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “That problem is only compounded when an individual suffers from developmental disabilities and the treatment paths are often very complex. This will better equip families to decide on the best possible course of treatment for their loved one.”
“When caring for a loved one with a developmental disability, families deserve to have access to their options and any other information they need to make an informed decision on treatment,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The legislation provides families, guardians and individuals the opportunity to review discussions with medical staff and make the best decisions on care and treatment programs.”
An interdisciplinary team is responsible for the development of a single, integrated individual habilitation plan for a person with a developmental disability. The team typically consists of the person receiving services; the person’s legal guardian; the parents or family member of the person; those individuals who work most directly with the person served; and professionals and representatives of service areas who are relevant to the identification of the person’s needs and the design and evaluation of programs to meet them.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for action.