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Bill targets referral agencies to prevent nursing home neglect

Long-term care facilities in California provide an invaluable service to the elderly and their families. While many family members may want to care for their loved ones well into their old age, specific medical needs often prevent them from providing needed care. However, referral agencies that are supposed to help families place their loved ones in the most appropriate home possible may not be looking out for the residents best interests, and improper placements can potentially lead to nursing home neglect

The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing a bill that would protect one of California's most vulnerable populations. The bill would tweak how current referral agencies operate, requiring them to disclose any interest -- financial or otherwise -- that they may have with certain nursing homes or other care facilities. Many proponents of the bill believe that potential residents have a right to know if a referral agency receives a commission for placing a person with a certain home.

Aside from requiring financial disclosures, this bill would require that an agency provide information on how often it has inspected certain facilities. Combined with the financial disclosure, this information can provide invaluable insight for elders and their families who may be concerned that a referral agency is looking out for its bottom line rather than a potential resident's best interests. The bill would also prohibit these types of referral agencies from sharing any personal information about their clients.

Although many California referral agencies offer their services for free, financial incentives from various nursing homes can be the real driver behind resident placement. This type of incentive can prompt agencies to neglect the actual needs of their clients, and when placed in an inappropriate home, nursing home neglect can occur. While this bill hopes to prevent this fate from befalling future clients, those who have used these types of services in the past may have already fallen victim to neglect and abuse. It is often up to the victims' families to file a lawsuit on their behalf, and the recourse from a successful claim is typically applied to related medical bills, pain and suffering and future long-term care needs.

Source: californianewswire.com, "Calif. Unscrupulous Elder Care Referral Agencies Bill Approved by Senate Committee - SB 648", Christopher Simmons, April 17, 2015

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