Media Statement Updated 4/24/2019
UALA’s primary role is to support assisted living providers and the seniors they serve through advocacy and education. We work daily with providers and regulatory bodies to increase knowledge, improve skills and elevate senior housing standards throughout Utah. The sad truth is that elder abuse is widespread, and takes many different forms from physical violence, financial fraud and scams to abandonment and inadequate care. To combat this problem, UALA is dedicated to raising awareness, providing on-going training, and being a resource to providers, seniors and families.
Throughout the state of Utah there are more than 7,800 senior living community employees, whom are dedicated to helping seniors and their families. They strive daily to serve our growing elderly population with high-quality care, compassion, and to provide an environment that is safe and home-like. According to a study completed by Argentum, the national association for the senior living industry, 90% of residents and 91% of families of residents report overall satisfaction with senior living. In addition, the growth of the senior living industry tracks closely with the older adult population growth in the US in recent years. From 2001 – 2014, the number of senior living communities increased 39%. During the same period, the US population of residents 85 years and older rose 43%. (See attached graphs).
Resident satisfaction is the direct result of the good these providers and professional caregivers do daily. Incidents like the one involving Jason Knox should not define our industry. But that’s not to say more could be – and should be done. UALA diligently works with legislators and providers to address issues that are symptomatic of insufficient care, struggling workforces and elder abuse. The fact is, there are already a number of regulations in place to protect seniors from elder abuse and other initiatives in the works:
All Utah senior living providers are required to run DACS background checks on employees. This automated fingerprint-based background check system allows online tracking of applicants’ backgrounds, and shares information with other long-term care providers.
In May 2016, UALA worked with governing bodies to pass the “Surveillance Act”. This Act allows residents of an assisted living or memory care facility to install a video or audio monitoring device in his/her room. While it does require that a notice is posted outside the entrance of the resident’s living space that activity/conversations may be recorded – the signage is known to serve as a deterrent to any malicious behavior.
Senior living providers have a ZERO tolerance policy against elder abuse of any kind, and take all necessary means to keep residents safe. Should elder abuse be suspected, providers report the incident to governing bodies, place the employee on administrative leave pending a full investigation and terminate the employee should there be findings of elder abuse.
Utah’s mandatory reporting law requires any person who has reason to believe that a senior has be subjected to abuse, neglect or fraud to immediately notify the nearest APS office or law enforcement agency.
As part of our ongoing commitment to protect the rights and safety of residents of senior living communities, UALA works closely with Utah’s Adult Protective Services and Long-term Care OMBUDSMAN.
At UALA’s upcoming conference on May 14th, the Salt Lake County Ombudsman will be teaching a breakout session entitled “Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse”.