Dayton announces bipartisan proposals to protect seniors after elder abuse reports

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After widespread reports of elder abuse and neglect, Governor Mark Dayton and lawmakers are getting behind a new proposal that would overhaul Minnesota's senior care facilities.

“We are now with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle determined to make those recommendations the law of the land,” said Will Phillips of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Phillips chaired the Governor’s task force on elder abuse. He recommended sweeping changes to oversee privately-owned assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

“These are people who call themselves care providers,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “They’re providing care to vulnerable people and some of the abuses that I have learned about are not only illegal, but deeply immoral.”

The Governor and legislators from both chambers and both parties, including Republican Lt. Governor and still Senator Michelle Fischbach, came together on the issue.

“This is an issue that I think brings people together,” said Fischbach. “This is an issue that is so important that we need to deal with it this year. Both the governor and I have this on our hearts and want to make sure this is taken care of.”

The bills headed through both the House and Senate process have three key components: licensing existing facilities which would create strict requirements for staffing and training, more rights for residents and families, and tough criminal and civil penalties.

The Department of Health says they’ve eliminated the backlog of complaints and closed over half the open investigations, which first brought the elder abuse issue to light. The Legislation, it’s hoped, will stop elder abuse from happening to begin with. 

“But the reality is we’re still seeing 400 cases of abuse being reported each week in our state, so we can’t stop here, we must get to the root of the problem and we must do it as soon as possible,” said Phillips.