State lacks laws to pro­tect se­niors from re­tal­i­a­tion

Fourth in a five-part se­ries by CHRIS SERRES • Photos by DAVID JOLES • Star Tri­bune staff

Star Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

Estelle Schaust thought she was be­ing help­ful. On the ve­randa of her se­nior home in Cham­plin, she scooped up a large ash­tray full of cig­a­rette butts, placed them in a plas­tic bag, then knot­ted it around the door­knob of the man­ager’s of­fice. She then taped the fa­cil­ity’s “No Smok­ing” pol­icy to the bag.

Schaust, who is 84, suf­fers from a pul­monary con­di­tion so se­vere that a doc­tor or­dered her to avoid smoke.

The next day, she said, she and her husband, Mathias, were sum­moned to the man­ager’s of­fice and given a scold­ing.

When the cou­ple pointed out that the fa­cil­ity’s rules ban smok­ing, the ad­min­is­tra­tor threat­ened to evict them for “mis­be­hav­ing” and “stir­ring up trouble,” the cou­ple told the Star Tri­bune.

“We were pet­ri­fied,” Estelle Schaust said. “We were be­ing la­beled as trou­ble­mak­ers and had nowhere else to go.”

Across Min­nesota, fam­i­lies who take mal­treat­ment com­plaints to the state Depart­ment of Health en­counter dead ends and de­lays, ac­cord­ing to a Star Tri­bune re­view of pub­lic doc­u­ments. Yet when they take their com­plaints di­rectly to the man­age­ment of their care homes, many find them­selves fac­ing re­tal­i­a­tion, even the threat of evic­tion.

Statewide, com­plaints about in­vol­un­tary dis­charges and trans­fers from se­nior care fa­cil­i­ties have surged 50 per­cent since 2012, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic records. They are now the top re­ported griev­ance, with more than 600 com­plaints lodged in 2016.

Com­pound­ing the prob­lem: Min­nesota’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws have failed to keep pace with rapid changes in res­i­den­tial care for se­niors, and in fact have fallen be­hind those of many other states.

In the past decade, hun­dreds of as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties have sprung up in Min­nesota, ac­cept­ing res­i­dents with acute health prob­lems, in­clud­ing de­men­tia. With about 65,000 beds, these fa­cil­i­ties now serve more

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.