Senate Passes Elder Workforce Bill Addressing Elder Abuse

 

BOSTON – On Thursday, the Senate passed a critical piece of legislation relative to the workforce caring for older adults in Massachusetts. S. 2466, An Act relative to the commonwealth’s direct-care workforce for elderly and disabled consumers, will begin the important process of reviewing the current status of and future needs for this workforce across the Commonwealth. The bill is comprised of various legislative initiatives filed by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) over several sessions.

 

In light of a growing need to review the workforce needs, Senator Jehlen also filed an amendment to the underlying bill that would fix a regulation gap that currently exists in how the state tracks elder abuse complaints that occur in assisted living residences. Senator Jehlen sponsored the bill that inspired the amendment after the WCVB Channel 5 investigative team aired a segment citing a number of tragic cases of physical, emotional, and financial elder abuse.

 

“Though the vast majority of caregivers do their jobs with dedication, competence, and compassion, cases like these bring to light gaps in the ability to prevent vulnerable people from being subject to physical, verbal, and financial abuse,” said Senator Jehlen. “This legislation both reaffirms that we cannot ignore workforce needs and reenforces that abuse of vulnerable populations is unacceptable in our Commonwealth.”

 

The adopted amendment ensures that an individual found by the Department of Public Health (DPH) to have abused an older adult would not be allowed to work as a caregiver for any vulnerable people, including children, persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and persons with a mental illness. Additionally, any person who has been suspended as a result of abusing an elder cannot advertise themselves for work as a caregiver and if a suspended person does, they will be subject to a fine of not less than $5,000.

 

“Senator Jehlen’s quick work in getting this issue in front of lawmakers deserves praise,” said Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care Association.

 

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote.

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