Assisted living licensing requirements would increase under $14.9 million plan in Minnesota

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Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton

Minnesota officials Tuesday unveiled a $14.9 million plan that would result in increased assisted living and memory care community licensing requirements and other changes that affect residential care facilities in the state.

The bipartisan plan, contained in HF 3468 and SF 3088, is based on recommendations contained in a January report from a task force appointed in November by Gov. Mark Dayton to address concerns related to elder abuse that had been the subject of a five-part series in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“In recent years, allegations of abuse at privately owned residential care facilities for older and vulnerable adults have increased more than 50 percent, reaching 24,100 total complaints last year alone,” according to a news release issued by the governor's office.

“Over the last several months, I have listened closely to the perspectives of seniors and their families, along with advocates and providers, whose stories must be at the center of our work,” Dayton, a Democrat, said in a statement. “While the responsibility for these abuses rests first and foremost with the private facilities who have violated the trust of families and their loved ones, my administration is taking concrete steps to investigate every allegation of abuse in a timely and thorough manner. I will work with the legislature this session to better ensure our parents and grandparents, their families and all vulnerable adults are safe and well-cared for in Minnesota.”

Currently in assisted living in Minnesota, according to the governor's office, home care services are the only part of care required to be licensed. The proposed legislation would require all assisted living communities, dementia units and executive directors to be licensed by Jan. 1, 2020.

“Across our state, more and more Minnesota families are entrusting assisted living facilities with the care of their loved ones. They deserve to know that those facilities will be a safe and supportive home for their parents and grandparents,” said Rep. Liz Olson, a Democrat. “These new proposals will provide greater safety, dignity and peace of mind to Minnesota seniors and their loved ones.”

Also preceding Tuesday's announcement was a report from the state Office of the Legislative Auditor that called for specific actions to be taken to improve licensing requirements for residential care facilities, enhance the inspections and investigation processes and facilitate better reporting and communication with victims and their families.

Under the legislation announced Tuesday, complaint data would be used to identify trends and would “inform prevention efforts undertaken in partnership with providers,” according to the governor's office said, to “help ensure that victims and their families receive justice, while violating facilities are held accountable in a timely manner.”

Criminal and civil penalties for those found guilty of abuse also would be increased.

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