(TRENTON) – Following a glaring report detailing alleged neglect at several for-profit memory care homes that cater to patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Connie Wagner (both D-Bergen) said Wednesday they will introduce legislation to improve state oversight in order to combat abuse in these facilities.
The measure follows a report by The Record this past weekend that revealed a series of troubling incidents that occurred at facilities operated by Memory Care Living at Potomac Homes -which specializes in an alternative kind of senior care that is not as highly regulated as nursing homes – including the case of an elderly man suffering from dementia who wandered four blocks from a group home in Mahwah in Bergen County in March, and was found standing in the middle of a busy intersection. The incidents were documented in state inspection records. According to the report, state regulators have repeatedly characterized Potomac’s homes as a “chronic offender.”
“I am concerned about the lack of accountability and oversight of these facilities cited in the report,” said Vainieri Huttle. “The incidents are too many and too disturbing to ignore. Individuals with Alzheimer’s are especially vulnerable and we must ensure that they are receiving appropriate care in a safe environment. This is a health and safety issue and a consumer issue.”
“Placing a loved one in a home is often a difficult decision. These diseases are debilitating and require a level of care that many are unable to provide at home. The incidents cited in this report are heartbreaking,” said Wagner. “Families who entrust the care of their relatives to these facilities should have the peace of mind that their loved ones are getting the care they need and require.”
The Record reviewed the inspection files going back to 2000 and found hundred of citations for things like failing to adequately screen residents, not discharging them when they developed a more serious condition, allowing uncertified aides to dispense medication, making errors in keeping medical records and having malfunctioning or deliberately disabled gates and alarms.
Vainieri Huttle and Wagner plan to address through their legislation misleading advertising, including advertising that refers to the homes as nursing homes or assisted living facilities; improve state oversight and how the state responds to allegations of misconduct and abuse; and enhance enforcement of current regulations and potentially create new regulations to prevent abuse.