TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would require the inclusion of a senior resident of a continuing care retirement community on the facility’s local governing board was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 9-0.
“Seniors’ rights to representative government do not end at the retirement home door,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the health panel. “However, in the cases of residential care facilities, boards of directors often operate with quasi-governmental powers, establishing rules and regulations for the seniors who live there. The residents of these facilities should have a voice in the decision-making process, and be afforded the same right to representation as guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution.”
The bill, S-425, would provide that the board of directors, or other local governing body for a continuing care retirement community include at least one resident as a full-voting member on the board. Resident members would be nominated by the residents and selected by the board of directors. The bill requires that any action by the directors which would significantly impact the well-being of residents or the financial stability of the facility must be in consultation with the residents’ representative.
“For seniors living in continuing care facilities, the decisions of the board of directors holds the weight of law, since compliance with the rules are a condition of continuing to live in the facility,” said Senator Karcher. “Before the directors can take any action that would severely impact the lives of the residents in their care, they should be required to notify the community of those actions, and give seniors a voice in the process. The residents’ representative will serve in a much-needed capacity, advocating from experience on behalf of those seniors living in the facility.”
Senator Karcher’s bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.