Dr. Robert A. DuBay, a resident of a six-bed facility, shows off his guitar in front of the other seniors at his home. Assemblyman Jim Patterson has launched a bill with bipartisan support aimed at easing regulations on the operations and openings of such homes. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Residential care providers in the Central Valley are enthusiastic about a new bill that will ease regulations on six-bed assisted living facilities in California.
Drafted by Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), AB1437 has already cleared the California State Assembly floor and is expected to be decided in the state Senate after the end of summer recess on Aug. 18. Its principal co-author in the upper house is Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Patterson said that he believes the bipartisan bill will pass with no problems.
“It’s a very good sign that it got off the Senate Human Services Committee on consent,” Patterson said. “I’m confident it’s going to be on the governor’s desk very soon.”
A six-bed home is a residential care facility aimed providing a communal setting similar to a single-family home. Often located within residential areas, the homes are modified to contain six bedrooms.
Patterson’s mother-in-law, Emmaline LeTourneau, spent the last four months of her life in a six-bed facility and was impressed by the level of care she received. She died in December 2014.
“She was joyful at that place and she passed away joyfully,” Patterson said. “That’s a big gift to families.”
Among those who are supporting the bill is George Kutnerian, the senior vice president of public policy and legislation for 6Beds, Inc., an advocacy group for six-bed homes. Kutnerian is also the CEO of Fresno Guest Homes, a series of six-bed facilities.
Kutnerian approached Patterson on behalf of 6Beds earlier this year to bring the issue forward in the Assembly. 6Beds also sponsored the bill, with Kutnerian speaking before the Assembly Human Services Committee.
“The impetus for the bill was really based on a lot of the feedback that we were receiving from 6Beds members throughout the state of California,” Kutnerian said. “So this is a constant problem for many of our members over the last several years.”
Currently, 80 percent of all Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) in California are six-bed facilities, with more than 5,000 running. Of the 180 facilities in Fresno County, Patterson said 140 of them are six-bed homes. If passed, AB1437 will take steps to simplify the operations of these assisted living centers throughout California.
The first change to be brought about as a result of the bill would be the allowance of certified administrators of six-bed homes to apply to open up new facilities without having to undergo the initial certification training program. Under the current rules, the certified administrator must undergo the 80-hour program again if they open a home five years after licensure.
The reasoning for this change was because current operators have already completed the program and go through 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
“There was a residential hurdle and a very expensive one,” Patterson said, “to open a second or third or fourth home.”
Kutnerian said that this certification, while time-consuming, would also cost hundreds of dollars.
“The education is important,” Kutnerian said, “but what we’re saying is that this is redundant.”
The second change introduced by AB1437 would allow a six-bed operator to move an employee who has already passed a criminal clearance check from one home to another without filing transfer paperwork with the state if they are both licensed by the same operator. This change, Patterson said, would allow a facility to be properly staffed if an employee is unable to come into work without the home having to pay a penalty.
“They can actually cite facilities $100 a day up to $500 if transfer paperwork hasn’t been filed,” Kutnerian said, “which is the equivalent penalty to hiring someone — like a new hire — who has no criminal clearance whatsoever, resulting in the same penalty.”
Implementation of the bill will begin on Jan. 1, 2018 if it passes.