ANDERSON – Legislation authored by state Rep. Terri Austin to strengthen resident protections in long-term care facilities has passed the Indiana House.

The legislation was approved 99-0 and is now being considered by the Indiana Senate.

“There was a lot of bipartisan support,” Austin, D-Anderson, said. “I think the chances of passage are very good.” 

Austin said the legislation is a result of an Anderson family approaching her about a concern about the quality of care at a local nursing home.

“They didn’t know about the ombudsman,” Austin said. “This legislation will help them get the sufficient information to ensure quality care.”

The bill would require long-term care facilities to provide prospective residents and their families with written information regarding the services provided by the long-term care ombudsman. The bill would also require, at the request of the resident, that at least one individual of the resident’s choosing be present during the development of the resident’s long-term care plan.

“The concept for this bill came from a family that lives in my district who had to put their elderly mother in a nursing home,” Austin said. “They were concerned about the quality of care their mother was receiving, but didn’t know where to turn. Anyone who has put a family member into a long-term care facility knows that the process can be emotional and overwhelming.

“This bill would ensure that families and the resident know the resources available to them if they have concerns about the quality of care they receive,” Austin added. 

She said it allows a family member to be present when the resident's care plan is being discussed. The resident makes the decision on who can be involved in the discussions.

The Indiana Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program addresses issues regarding the care residents receive such as the administration of medications, emotional and verbal abuse, and Medicaid discrimination.

“It is vital that senior Hoosiers and their family members know their rights and how to advocate for them when it comes time for long-term care,” Austin said. “Families should be reassured that there is a plan in place to protect and truly take care of a loved one.”

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