Solutions For Rampant Nursing Home Abuse in Minnesota Targeted By New Report

A new report highlights the growing problem with nursing home abuse and elder neglect in Minnesota, and includes a list of recommendations that would help combat the issues. 

A number of elder care watchdog groups, including AARP Minnesota, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center and others released the report (PDF) on January 29, calling for an expansion and strengthening of the rights of older and vulnerable adults, stronger criminal and civil rights enforcement, and new ways to improve dementia care.

It comes following evidence that there is a growing backlog of Minnesota nursing home abuse cases that regulators have failed to address.

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Last year, the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) at the Minnesota Department of Health warned that there has been a 600% increase in reports of elder mistreatment since 2010. According to the OHFC, the state has only investigated 1% of the 20,791 reports submitted by providers, and only 10% of the 3,491 reports submitted by individuals.

That led Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to ask AAPR Minnesota to conduct an investigation with a number of other organizations, collectively designated the Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup, and develop recommendations to address the problem.

The report warns that demographics indicate that the vulnerable elderly and dementia population will increase over the next decade, meaning the problem will become worse if it is not addressed.

“The Consumer Workgroup recommendations call for far-reaching policy and agency practices to prevent and deter abuse,” the report’s executive summary states. “The recommendations reflect the experiences of our organizations and a belief that older and vulnerable adults and their families should be at the center of any reform. They further reflect and incorporate feedback the group received from victims, family members, experts, providers, direct care workers, and advocates who responded to the request to convey their concerns and offer recommendations.”

The report identifies four key areas in need of action and improvement. They include the strengthening and expansion of the rights of older and vulnerable adults and their families; the enhancement and enforcement of criminal and civil rights; the development of new licensure frameworks for assisted living and dementia care in residential settings; and improvement of Minnesota Department of Health licensing regulations, OHFC’s enforcement and investigation process, and improvement of mandated reports to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC).

The report goes into methods of addressing each recommendation in detail.

“Minnesotans deserve a system that provides optimal care and services, and maximum protections against abuse,” the report concludes. “Addressing the tragedy of elder abuse is a shared Minnesota value. We urge lawmakers and regulators to take swift action to turn these recommendations into laws and into meaningful change.”

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