Health and Family Services Cabinet
Gov. Beshear Directs Immediate Implementation of Recommendations for Investigating Nursing Home Neglect, Abuse
Cabinet for Health and Family Services submitted report today
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 17, 2010) – Governor Steve Beshear today accepted a comprehensive report from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) on nursing home investigation processes for reporting incidents of neglect or abuse. The Governor directed that the Secretary’s recommendations be immediately implemented.
Gov. Beshear called the review an important part of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of thousands of Kentuckians in the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
“On behalf of all Kentucky families with loved ones in nursing homes, I deeply appreciate the work of the Cabinet and the many associated agencies, advocacy groups and industry representatives that contributed to this report,” said Gov. Beshear. “This review will be an essential document to guide the many groups that have an interest in maintaining safe nursing homes, and to ensure that proper procedures and accountability are maintained when investigations are required for suspected cases of neglect or abuse.”
Gov. Beshear asked for the review after a newspaper investigation questioned the effectiveness of the current process of reporting and prosecuting cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.
The review included input from a wide range of interested parties and agencies, including the Office of Attorney General, which engaged local prosecutors; both U.S. Attorneys; Kentucky State Police; Kentucky Protection and Advocacy; police chiefs; Kentucky Association of Homes and Services for the Aging; Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities; Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform; Kentucky Initiative for Quality Nursing Home Standards; AARP; Alzheimer’s Association; and the Kentucky Institute on Aging. Also included were state agencies within CHFS that interface with long-term care facilities and the elderly.
“We appreciate Gov. Beshear leading efforts to ensure the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is communicating and coordinating with other state agencies in order to more efficiently and effectively investigate elder abuse and neglect cases,” said General Conway. “Elder abuse and neglect cases have been a top priority of my administration. In fact, we’ve filed more neglect and abuse charges than any previous attorney general. We look forward to working with Gov. Beshear, the Cabinet and other state partners to build on that record.”
“While instances of abuse and neglect in Kentucky’s Long Term Care facilities are not the norm, even one instance of abuse is one too many,” said Tim Veno, president of the Kentucky Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. “We fully support Governor Beshear and Secretary Miller’s initiative to re-examine how to do a better job in identifying, investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of abuse, neglect and exploitation.”
An extensive review of practices of state agencies and other interested parties revealed areas where policy changes or further inter-agency engagement could improve the process of reporting or investigating nursing home abuse or neglect.
The report noted that the necessary components for creating a long-term system of care are similar to the model Kentucky has already created for identifying and addressing neglect and abuse of children. “Those same components are critical to bring together the elements of a system necessary to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute adult neglect and abuse,” said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller.
Some of these elements include mandatory reporting, multidisciplinary investigative teams, dedicated staffing units, forensically trained staff, post-event review panels, and public education and awareness.
Gov. Beshear directed that the report’s 20 recommendations, which are designed to improve the state’s investigative response, enhance agency coordination, and promote safety, quality and transparency be immediately implemented. The recommendations include:
• Improve agency notifications of suspected adult abuse and neglect;
• Establish regional specialized Adult Protective Service teams within the Department for Community Based Services;
• Establish joint investigative teams to allow better information sharing;
• Utilize coroners’ offices more effectively throughout investigations;
• Increase training of long-term care investigators in the Office of Inspector General;
• Explore the possibility of purchasing investigative technology;
• Revitalize the Elder Abuse Committee to carry out statutory functions;
• Provide additional training for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors on elder abuse and neglect issues;
• Amend licensure regulations to require in-service training on abuse and neglect for all long-term care facility staff; and
• Publish Statements of Deficiencies issued by the Office of Inspector General in an easy-to-use format for the public.
The full report, with supporting documents from contributing agencies, is available at www.chfs.ky.gov.
“This report has been an important initial step to ensure the proper foundation is in place to support detection, investigation and prosecution of the crimes against adults in nursing homes,” said Sec. Miller. “Our most vulnerable citizens, many of whom reside in a nursing home, deserve our care and support to assure they may live graciously and with dignity.”