U.S. Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) legislation to guarantee seniors basic rights and protections from abuse and neglect as they receive long-term services and support in their homes and communities has been included in a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) introduced today by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging of the Senate Health Committee.
"For 50 years, the Older Americans Act has been helping seniors remain active and independent in their golden years," said Sen. Franken. "This reauthorization is our opportunity to make it even better. Seniors from Moorhead to Winona have told me that being able to live at home is a top priority for them and their families. That's why the bill includes a provision I wrote that would expand protections to seniors who receive home- and community-based services."
Residents of nursing homes are guaranteed certain rights and protections from elder abuse, but Sen. Franken has heard from Minnesota seniors and their advocates that seniors who receive services in their homes and communities are often left without a place to turn if they feel unsafe or have problems with their services. Sen. Franken's Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act has been included in the OAA to address these concerns.
Sen. Franken's Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act would:
-Direct states to develop a Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights to protect seniors who receive services in their homes and communities;
-Establish a voluntary Home Care Ombudsman Program to support states that choose to provide ombudsman services to resolve the concerns and complaints of seniors who receive home- and community-based services; and
-Develop quality measures for home- and community-based services so that seniors and their families can make more informed decisions about who provides their services.
OAA was established in 1965 to help meet the social service needs of seniors and to help them age independently in their homes and communities. The Act provides federal funding and creates the infrastructure for the delivery of critical social services like meals, senior centers, caregiver support, and job training services. The law was last reauthorized in 2006.