In an attempt to overhaul Washington's adult family-home system, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is seeking new laws to boost the cost of opening new homes, raise training requirements and hike enforcement penalties for violators.
In addition, an adult-home-industry group asked DSHS to stop licensing new homes in three key counties — King, Snohomish and Clark. High vacancy rates are threatening to put dozens of owners out of business while reducing residents' quality of care.
The proposed changes are in response to a continuing investigation by The Seattle Times, Seniors for Sale, which found 236 deaths of vulnerable adults that indicate neglect or abuse but were not reported to the state or investigated.
Washington has licensed nearly 3,000 adult homes to provide board and care for up to six adults. Adult homes are less-regulated, less-expensive elder-care options than nursing homes, and are touted as providing personalized care in cozy, neighborhood settings.
But The Times found that hundreds of seniors have been injured or died prematurely from substandard care, often through neglect by scantly trained caregivers.
State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, chair of the Health and Long Term Care Committee, said: "We have work to do. We're going to have to push forward and take action. We cannot afford to have the kind of awful cases The Times uncovered to continue. We must put a stop to it."
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DSHS Vows to Toughen Oversight of State's Adult Homes