On May 19, 2019, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation aimed to provide additional protections for elderly and vulnerable residents in Minnesota. The legislation included two levels of licensure for assisted living to enhance regulatory oversight for assisted living settings. Passage of the legislation followed the release of a consumer workgroup report on January 29, 2019, which drew attention to the issue of elder abuse in Minnesota. The report contained senior care-related recommendations to improve care and safety for the elderly and vulnerable in nursing homes and assisted living. The workgroup was formed in response to a request from Governor Mark Dayton to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Governor Dayton also named the Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota Elder Justice Center, Elder Voice Family Advocates, and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid to the workgroup.
The workgroup report describes elder abuse in Minnesota as a “crisis,” noting that the scale and gravity of the issue started to take shape during the 2017 legislative session when the Office of Health Facility Complaints at the Minnesota Department of Health reported a 600% increase in maltreatment reports since 2010. The report cites problems in the current regulatory system, stating that they require “immediate and dramatic fixes” and that oversight by regulatory authorities is essential to ensure appropriate care is provided to vulnerable and elderly patient populations. The report calls out Minnesota as an outlier compared to other states in regard to the regulation of assisted living services, as “[a]ll other states require licensure or similar public oversight for these settings.” The report includes a call to action for Minnesota to adopt a licensure framework for assisted living and a dementia care certification to establish minimum standards of care and services for the provisions of these services.
In response to the report and to the growing attention on the issue of elder abuse in Minnesota, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill which establishes two levels of licensure for assisted living, one for assisted living facilities that only provide assisted living services and one for assisted living with dementia care for facilities that provide assisted living services and dementia care services. An assisted living facility with dementia care may also provide dementia care services in a secured dementia care unit and would be licensed as an assisted living facility with dementia care. As additional regulatory oversight, the legislation also includes minimum requirements for assisted living facilities and funding for the Office of the Ombudsman of Long-Term Care for additional staff and support activities.
The legislation also contains provisions aimed to provide tools to protect the safety of residents, including a provision giving residents of certain facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the right to use electronic monitoring devices in the resident’s room or private living unit to monitor the resident or activities in the room or private living unit. Electronic monitoring devices include cameras or other devices that capture, record, or broadcast audio, video, or both. In addition, the legislation allows for a resident or a resident’s representative to place a hidden camera in a facility under certain circumstances. The legislation includes an assisted living bill of rights and required qualifications for assisted living directors and nursing home administrators. In addition, the Minnesota state health department will have the ability to issue correction orders and fines to licensed facilities to ensure facility standards are met.
If the legislation is signed into law by the Governor, the licensure requirements will go into effect by August 1, 2021. Facilities providing assisted living services to residents should ensure compliance with the licensure requirements to avoid penalties. For questions, please contact Hedy Rubinger.