New laws targeted at protecting Illinois seniors were signed July 28th, 2012 by Governor Quinn. The laws were meant to increase awareness regarding the ongoing struggle to keep the elderly safe from abuse by toughening laws governing caregivers. Although any additional laws that help decrease elder abuse would be welcomed, these laws seems to do little, if anything, to stop or prevent the abuse.
The New Laws
There are several laws that have just been enacted surrounding the elder abuse issue. They vary from training to release of medical records. However, very little of these laws actually addresses the elder abuse issue. Here are a few re-caps of the bills signed:
- House Bill 5653. This freezes the financial assets of a person accused of financial exploitation.
- House Bill 5266. With this law, law enforcement and fire departments will have access to senior service provider’s reports of abuse. House Bill 3986 allows these reports to be sent to the Illinois Department of Aging via the internet.
- House Bill 5098. Probation officers will now have to take a course on how to recognize and handle elder abuse.
- Senate Bill 680. This requires that nursing home staff take training courses on correct lifting techniques.
- Senate Bill 3499. This actually gives nursing homes the option of paying 65% of fines as a settlement within 10 days, waiving their right to contest the penalty.
There is also a new law requiring the phone number to be listed on patient’s wristbands, a law releasing medical records after death to executors and a law pertaining to the power of attorney. Oh, and lets not forget the law that allows nursing home owners the right to assume responsibility for residents that they are related to.
Did We Miss Something?
Governor Quinn is proud of his new laws and was quoted saying,
Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them. Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger.
However, one fails to see how these laws do anything to prevent abuse or stop it when it is happening. The majority of the laws are just smoke screen for the real problems within the nursing homes of Illinois. Training probation officers and reducing fines for the nursing homes is not going to reduce abuse, prevent neglect or hold the facilities responsible for their actions.
The Senate and House both need to go back to work and find real solutions for the nursing home issues in the great state of Illinois. When the actual issue of neglect and abuse is addressed with tougher laws, fines and budgets adjusted to increase care, and then the Governor will have something to sign to be proud of.