A debate’s raging over seniors in “assisted living” and who will decide when they need more intensive care and supervision. The state’s Department of Inspections and Appeals ordered seven residents of a popular Marshalltown facility to be transferred to nursing homes, saying they were too feeble or sick to remain at Bickford Cottage. Marshalltown State Senator Larry McKibben says it raised objections in the community. He says, essentially, citizens are being evicted, and if they and their families and doctors are satisfied with the care they’re getting, he doesn’t believe the agency’s claim they need better care. McKibben says he understands the need for oversight, however. He says they “weeded out” a few facilities that had problems around the state, but makes the analogy that if you have a few weeds in a garden you pull them, not spray it all with Round-Up. Dean Lerner, the deputy director of the department, says he doesn’t think the agency’s staff is overzealous, as McKibben charges. He says it’s not an industry-wide problem, but inspectors have found three facilities where there are people who shouldn’t be left in “assisted living.” Lerner says patients found to be wheelchair-dependent, suffering from incontinence and blood clots are required by law to have licensed nursing care, which is not available in assisted-living homes. The legislature can change the law, he says, and state workers will continue to apply the laws as they’re written. The department of Inspections and Appeals took over monitoring Iowa’s assisted-living facilities after the Department of Elder Affairs was criticized for being too lenient. Republican Representative Clyde Bradley, co-chair of the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee, thinks the inspectors are following the rules TOO strictly. He says the reason for having the rules is to let people in the homes have an enjoyable life. Bradley says if the Department of Inspections and Appeals would loosen up its enforcement of the rules, they won’t have to be changed. He charges that moving the elderly from one facility to another can be hard on them, and says his own mother withered after she was moved from an assisted living facility to a nursing home.
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