Rice Bill Requiring Senior Housing Facility to Notify Family In Event of Death Now Law

Senator Rice

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald Rice to provide for notification of family members or other emergency contact in the event of the death of a resident living in a senior housing facility is now law.

“When a resident of a senior facility passes on, there should be procedures in place to ensure that the individual’s loved ones are notified in a timely manner,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Unfortunately, we’ve heard of instances where this hasn’t been the case. This is a heart-breaking situation for a family. This law is aimed at making sure those kinds of tragic lapses in process do not occur and that the emergency contact designated by the individual is notified.”

The law (S1131) requires administrators of senior housing facilities to establish and implement procedures for collection of emergency contact information of a person to be notified in the event of the death of a senior citizen residing in the facility.  The requirement applies to any rooming house, boarding house, residential health care facility, assisted living facility, nursing home, continuing care retirement community, and public housing designated for seniors.

The law requires the procedures to provide an opportunity for a prospective or current senior citizen occupant of a qualified housing facility to provide and update emergency contact information.  Upon learning of the death of a senior citizen occupant, an administrator would have to notify the emergency contact as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours thereafter, or else be liable to a $500 civil penalty.  The Commissioner of Community Affairs is to adopt regulations that govern the notification procedures.

The bill was approved in the Assembly by a vote of 72-0. The Senate approved it 36-0. The governor signed it into law yesterday. It takes effect immediately.