(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to protect the rights and safety of the elderly living in continuing care communities received final legislative approval in the Senate on Monday.
"Continuing care retirement communities' offer lifetime housing and a range of care based on needs," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This legislation will make sure that as those needs change and as financial concerns emerge, there are fair and reasonable protections in place."
The bill (A-3132) would create the "Bill of Rights for Continuing Care Retirement Community Residents in Independent Living" to establish and clarify the rights of residents living in continuing care retirement communities.
"This will help provide residents in continuing care facilities with a proper voice to ensure that their needs and rights are protected," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "More importantly, it will help improve their quality of life at a time when their health may be particularly fragile, making a crucial difference in their day-to-day living."
"We measure ourselves by how well we take care of our most vulnerable, and this is designed to ensure we do what's right by them," said Benson (D-Middlesex/Mercer). "Ensuring they receive an excellent quality of life is the right thing to do."
The bill provides that each prospective continuing care retirement community resident is to receive a copy of a disclosure statement from the facility before the execution of a continuing care agreement, as well as an explanation written in clear and plain language of the rights and responsibilities of a resident.
The prospective resident will have up to 30 days to review the copy of the disclosure statement and the written explanation prior to executing the continuing care agreement.
Any determination that the resident can no longer function independently, with or without the assistance of an aide or aides, is to be made by the director of medical services of the facility and will be subject to the applicable requirements of the bill. The facility is to notify the resident in writing of any right that the resident may have to appeal that determination.
Also, each resident is to receive every service, as contracted in the continuing care agreement that was executed upon the resident's admission, unless waived in writing by the resident, with the exception of changes required by state or federal law or permitted in the continuing care agreement.
The facility must notify residents in writing as to whether they will be charged a per diem fee during any time that they are absent from the facility, whether for an overnight absence or a longer period.
The measure was approved 37-0. It will now go to the Governor's desk for further consideration.