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 today by a vote of 35-1.
“Any just government must operate with approval and representation of the people,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “However, in retirement communities, the voice of the people is being silenced by boards of directors who are not accountable to their residents. In these communities, where the boards of directors act as de facto governments, it is only fair that we give seniors a voice in the decision-making process affecting their daily lives.”
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.
“This bill ensures that the interests of our seniors living in retirement communities are secure, and that the board of directors must give consideration to the needs of its residents,” said Senator Karcher. “I think we are doing a great injustice, and are being extraordinarily arrogant, if we write off the ability of our parents and grandparents to make decisions for themselves. By requiring the board of directors to consult with a residential representative in retirement communities, we are striking a blow for representative government, and recognizing that seniors aren’t to be coddled, but treasured.”
Senator Karcher’s bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration. Similar legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Panter, received approval from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee today by a vote of 9-0, with one abstention.