Act seeks to shield seniors from caregiver abuse

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Providers are giving mixed reviews to a new piece of legislation that would seek to protect seniors from abuse and neglect.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this week introduced The Elder Justice Act, along with co-sponsors Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).

The bill requires immediate reporting of incidents to law enforcement officials, federal criminal background checks and assuring the safety of residents following the closure of a facility.

While the American Health Care Association supports the intent of the bill, the organization said the legislation should strike a better balance between "the prevention of abuse and the prosecution of abuse." Among its suggestions: Strengthen the link between caregivers and law enforcement, and address the need for more staff and more staff training.