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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Untitled Document

Peggy’s Law Guidance

The following is guidance about the impact of Senate Bill 1219 – also known as “Peggy’s Law” -- which amends N.J.S.A. 52: 27G- 1, et seq., the enabling statute for the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (formerly the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly hereinafter referred to as LTCO), and became effective on October 6, 2017.

There are several key sections where the LTCO statute was changed that have an impact on the interactions between long-term care facilities (as defined in the enabling statute) and the LTCO.  The statutory language and LTCO guidance for relevant sections are included below.

On October 18, 2017, the LTCO unveiled a new website - which features a separate page for long-term care facilities and includes direct access to information and publications that may be useful to facilities seeking to comply with the provisions of Senate Bill 1219. The “Information for Facilities” button can be found at the bottom of the LTCO home page.

  1. N.J.S.A 52:27G-7: Complaints; eliciting, receiving, processing, responding to and resolving; disposition:


    N.J.S.A 52:27G-7 (a):
    This section was amended to state that “the office shall ensure that a system is in place to receive complaints 24 hours per day, seven days per week, whether or not live staff members are available to receive the complaint.”

    The office has established procedures for receiving complaints. The office operates a multi-faceted system that ensures that LTCO is in compliance with this provision of the law. Calls to the intake line (toll-free line) are monitored 24 hours. As always, long-term care facilities that are reporting incidents are encouraged to call the intake line. Where appropriate, LTCO urges certain long-term care facilities to call and indicate that they plan to fax the AS-45 Reportable Event Record/Report, which should be received by the LTCO within 24 hours of an incident, and in some cases, within 2 hours.  The intake line number is 1-877-582-6995. The fax number is 609-943-3479. You can also email PDFs of the AS-45 to ombudsman@ltco.nj.gov .  Contact information for the LTCO and copies of the AAS-45 form are available on the LTCO website under “Information for Facilities.”

    N.J.S.A 52:27G-7.1: Report of suspected abuse: (New Jersey refers to this paragraph as the “Mandatory Reporter”).  This section requires that “Any caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse, or other professional or staff member employed at a facility, and any representative of a managed care entity who, as a result of information obtained in the course of that individual’s employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall report such information to the ombudsman or to the person designated by the ombudsman to receive such a report.

    If an individual reporting suspected abuse or exploitation pursuant to this subsection has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that the institutionalized elderly person is or has been the victim of a crime, the individual shall additionally report such information to the local law enforcement agency and to the health administrator of the facility.

    If the events that cause the suspicion or belief result in serious bodily injury, the individual shall report the suspicion or belief immediately, but not later than two hours after forming the suspicion or belief.

    If the events that cause the suspicion or belief do not result in serious bodily injury, the individual shall report the suspicion or belief immediately, but not later than 24 hours after forming the suspicion or belief.”

    The notable changes in this section include specific language that includes all “staff member(s) employed at a facility.” In addition, this section includes for the first time, representatives from managed care organizations as mandatory reporters.

    Specifically, this section states that if a LTC facility staff member believes that a resident has been the victim of a crime, as defined by the criminal code, the local police must be contacted and the LTCO must be contacted. The local police should be contacted first if there is a reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime.  Note: Facilities should consult their legal counsel for an interpretation of the state criminal code.

    If the suspected commission of a crime results in serious bodily injury, the individual shall report the suspicion or belief IMMEDIATELY to the local police and the LTCO but, not later than two hours “after forming the suspicion or belief” of a crime.

    If the suspected commission of a crime DOES NOT result in serious bodily injury, the local police and the LTCO should be contacted  IMMEDIATELY but not later than 24 hours “after forming the suspicion or belief” of a crime.

    N.J.S.A. 52:27G-7.1(f): “Any person required to report who fails to report abuse or exploitation and/or a crime shall be fined not more than $500 individually and, the facility employing the individual shall be fined not more than $2,500. Each violation of this act shall constitute a separate offense.”

    The new legislation allows the LTCO to impose fines on both the individual AND the facility contracting with or employing the individual.

  2. N.J.S.A 52:27G-11: Patients, residents, or clients; communications with office; written notice about office; informing about rights and entitlements:

    N.J.S.A.52: 27G-11(b):  Requires that the LTCO shall “prepare and distribute to each facility written notices, in English and Spanish, which set forth the address and telephone number of the office, a brief explanation of the function of the office, the procedure to follow in filing a complaint and other pertinent information. The notice shall also indicate the option to call 911.”

    The LTCO has updated its “See it! Report it! Prevent it!” abuse reporting poster. In this context, the poster is the written notice that complies with the statutory mandate. In addition, the poster has been updated to emphasize the option of calling 911.

    Hard copies of these posters are available in English and Spanish and the LTCO has opted to make the poster available in an additional 12 languages on its website. These posters are available on the LTCO website under “Information for Facilities/
    LTCO Publications.”

    These posters should continue to be posted in conspicuous public places, in your facility. For example, common areas, high traffic areas, resident-designated areas, etc.

    N.J.S.A 52:27G-11(c): Requires that “The facility shall inform patients, residents or clients, and their guardians, resident representatives or families, of their rights and entitlements under State and federal laws and rules and regulations in a format and language that the recipient understands, by means of the distribution of educational materials as provided by subsection b of this section.”

    This paragraph reflects a significant change from the former legislation. The new paragraph requires the facility RATHER THAN the LTCO to inform the patient, residents, or clients, about relevant law concerning resident rights. However, the new legislation also requires the LTCO to provide educational materials.

    To comply with the mandate to provide educational materials to residents, the LTCO has updated its residents’ rights brochures for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities. These brochures are a summary of the relevant laws. The LTCO has also updated its overall LTCO brochure, which explains the advocacy services such as how to report abuse, neglect, exploitation or violations of residents’ rights.

    These publications, i.e., educational materials, are available through the LTCO and shall be distributed to residents or their representatives in compliance with the relevant state and federal laws.


    All of these materials are available on the LTCO website by selecting the “Information for Facilities” button at the bottom left corner of the home page and selecting the “LTCO Publications” link. These publications are formatted so they can be printed, folded and distributed.

     Text-only versions of the residents’ rights brochures and the overall LTCO brochure are available on the LTCO website. These brochures can be accessed and translated into more than 100 different languages by selecting the language you need next to the Google symbol in the upper far right corner of the page.

    Finally, you can obtain copies of the “See it! Report it! Prevent it!” abuse reporting poster, the residents’ rights brochures and the LTCO brochure by calling the LTCO at 1-877-582-6995 and selecting option #3.

    N.J.S.A 52:27G-11(e)
    : “The administrator of each facility shall annually provide all caretakers, social workers, physicians, registered or licensed practical nurses,  and other professionals and staff members employed at the facility with a notice explaining the requirements of section 2 of P.L.1983, c.43 44 (C.52:27G-7.1) concerning the reporting of suspected abuse or exploitation of an institutionalized elderly person, and require, as a condition of employment at the facility, that the employee acknowledge in writing receipt of the notice. The signed acknowledgement shall be retained in the employee’s personnel file.”

    The LTCO has made available resources on its website that might be useful for Administrators, Executive Directors, Chief Operating Officers, Owners/Operators, or other designees etc., seeking to comply with the legal  provision commonly known as the Mandatory Reporting requirement. It is important to note that the new legislation does not require the LTCO to provide the notice explaining the Mandatory Reporting provision.  As a professional courtesy, however, the LTCO has made available:
  • A revised mandatory reporting grid that includes the timelines for reporting and a definition of abuse, exploitation and serious bodily injury. This document can be downloaded and printed from the LTCO website.

 


Last Updated: Tuesday, 03/24/20