Content starts here

Arizona Passes AARP-Backed Law to Strengthen Oversight of Long-Term Care Facilities

AARP Arizona

En español | AARP applauds Arizona lawmakers and Gov. Katie Hobbs for enacting legislation to strengthen state oversight of assisted living and other long-term care facilities and set tougher penalties for those that fail to prevent abuse.

“This is a significant piece of legislation aimed at enhancing the safety, oversight and quality of long-term care across Arizona,” AARP Arizona State Director Dana Marie Kennedy said during the governor’s bill signing ceremony on April 8.

The bipartisan bill, introduced by state Rep. Timothy Dunn and championed by Hobbs in her state of the state address this year, doubles the maximum fine for endangering residents, from $500 to $1,000 per day for each resident impacted, with the possibility of additional fines based on the seriousness of violations.

The legislation also cracks down on tactics some facilities use to escape punishment and directs the state health department to create standards for facilities that provide memory care services. The state has no agreed-upon standards for what constitutes “memory care,” even though many facilities use the term and charge a premium for the services, according to Kennedy.

AARP Arizona spent five years advocating for the reforms, an effort that picked up steam after an Arizona Republic newspaper investigation about violence and neglect in assisted living facilities, including the death of a woman who was beaten by another resident in a Phoenix senior living facility.

Among other measures, the law will:

  • Prevent facilities from hiring or continuing to employ people whose names are on the state’s Adult Protective Services abuse registry.
  • Allow the state Department of Health Services to deny a license transfer for facilities with pending fines and continue with legal action if the name changes or the facility closes.
  • Require caregivers working at memory care facilities to receive at least eight hours of dementia care training, plus an additional four hours of training every year.
  • Establish a committee to study best practices for adult protective services, determine how to share data among agencies serving vulnerable adults, and address other issues related to vulnerable adults in residential care settings.  

The legislation builds on AARP’s national work to protect residents living in long-term care facilities, including efforts to prevent the overuse of psychotropic drugs and raise awareness about the harms of involuntary transfers.

Read more about AARP Arizona’s advocacy work, and keep up with our caregiving and nursing home coverage.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

Also of Interest:

Assisted Living Facilities: Weighing the Options
Nursing Home Staffing Standards Require Around-the-Clock Nurse

Get Our Daily Newsletter

Start each day with The Daily newsletter for the latest in health, money and jobs — and updates on how we're fighting for you.