Governor pushes legislation aimed at protecting seniors

Governor Steve Beshear announced a legislative package Friday that he says will better protect adults and seniors from abuse and exploitation. The governor says the “Safeguarding our Seniors” initiative “further strengthens safety standards and will make a significant difference in the lives of Kentucky’s elderly citizens and the people who care for them.”

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller says "this legislation helps bolster the work of adult protective services staff and the advocates who stand up for vulnerable adults.”

Miller said the legislation enhances CHFS’ efforts, which include better documentation of allegations of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities and recently restarting the state’s Elder Abuse Committee.

The series of legislation would:

• Prevent people who abuse or neglect vulnerable or elderly adults from benefiting from their deaths (HB52);
• Keep a person convicted of felony abuse or exploitation of an adult from serving as that victim's guardian, executor or power of attorney (HB 54);
• Make it easier and more efficient for adults and seniors needing a guardian when more than one state is involved. (HB 164);
• Require annual criminal background checks of staff at personal care agencies, a step beyond the pre-hiring check. (SB23);
• Require criminal background checks for all employees of nursing homes and assisted living homes, including custodians and food service workers (SB44); and
• Create an adult abuse registry (HB101 and SB 38).

Gov. Beshear said he is committed to include funding for an adult abuse registry in his 2012 budget proposal.

“A statewide registry is the best way to identify perpetrators when adult or elder abuse has been substantiated but doesn’t reach a criminal level,” Gov. Beshear said. “We have a similar list to keep our children safe at day care centers and schools. With this list for adults, nursing homes and other facilities can easily weed out applicants who fall on this list for harming our elderly.”

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