Fremont legislator seeks to bolster rights of care home residents

by Katie Nelson, Contra Costa Times

A Fremont assemblyman has joined efforts to overhaul the state’s Department of Social Services by boosting the rights of residential care facility residents.

Assembly Bill 2171, authored by Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, was introduced Thursday and is part of the Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014, a group of bills presented by legislators in January in an effort to reform the department. The January announcement came just months after the chaotic closure and near abandonment of 19 residents at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley.

The bill presented Thursday is also backed by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, who jointly supported all other bills that are part of the RCFE Reform Act.

“Too many seniors are spending their remaining years living in deplorable conditions, being mistreated and feeling like their voices are not being heard,” Wieckowski said in a news release. “This will make sure more seniors are treated with the dignity they deserve.”

The bill would guarantee residents the right to be free from physical and chemical restraints and the possible inappropriate use of psychoactive drugs. The bill would also prohibit a licensee or employee of a facility from serving as an agent for a resident under a power of attorney.

Should the licensee violate these terms, they could be sued.

“AB 2171 is the heart of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014,” said Patricia McGinnis, executive director for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “It is shocking that California still does not have a statutory bill of rights for assisted living residents to protect the fragile rights of some of our most at-risk citizens.”