PA 13-250—sSB 886

Aging Committee

Public Safety and Security Committee

Human Services Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING AGING IN PLACE

SUMMARY: This act makes changes in several statutes to help senior citizens remain in their own homes and communities as they age (i. e. , “age in place”). Specifically, it:

1. requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) to incorporate into its existing efforts coordinated outreach to increase the awareness and use of the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) ( 1);

2. requires local plans of conservation and development (C & D) to consider allowing seniors and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes and communities ( 2);

3. specifies that the exemption from obtaining a State Building Code variance or exemption for constructing homes with visitable features includes certain ramps allowing wheelchair access ( 3);

4. adds anyone paid by an institution, organization, agency, or facility to care for seniors to the list of mandated elder abuse reporters and establishes a related training requirement for their employers ( 4);

5. requires DSS, by July 1, 2014, to begin annually reporting to the legislature on the elder abuse and neglect complaints it received in the previous calendar year ( 5); and

6. requires the Department of Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the aging and social services departments, to conduct a public awareness campaign, within available funds, to educate seniors and caregivers on ways to resist aggressive marketing tactics and scams ( 6).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

1 — SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The act requires the DSS commissioner, within available appropriations, to incorporate into existing efforts coordinated outreach to increase awareness and use of the state's SNAP program (formerly known as Food Stamps) by those eligible for the program, including recipients of public assistance and home-delivered and congregate meals.

Under existing law, the commissioner must work with certain agencies, higher education institutions, and local governments to enroll eligible people in SNAP.

2 — LOCAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT (C & D)

The act requires local plans of C & D to consider allowing seniors and individuals with disabilities to live in their homes and communities, whenever possible. Specifically, these plans may include allowing for home sharing and accessory apartments (e. g. , in-law apartments).

By law, a local planning commission must prepare or amend a plan of C & D for its municipality at least every 10 years.

Home Sharing

The act allows local plans of C & D to permit home sharing in single-family zones for up to four adults (1) age 60 or older or (2) with disabilities of any age. These individuals need not be related, but must receive support services at home.

Accessory Apartments

Under the act, these plans may also allow for accessory apartments for seniors (age 60 or over), individuals with disabilities, or their caregivers in all residential zones. The apartments would be subject to municipal zoning regulations concerning design and the principal property's long-term use.

Plans may also expand the definition of “family” in single-family zones to allow for these accessory apartments.

3 — STATE BUILDING CODE

The law exempts developers from a requirement to obtain a State Building Code variance or exemption to construct visitable features in homes. These features include (1) interior doorways that provide a minimum 32-inch wide clear opening, (2) an accessible means of egress, and (3) a full or half bathroom on the first floor that complies with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.

The act specifies that an accessible means of egress includes a ramp intended to allow wheelchair access that complies with the International Residential Code portion of the State Building Code.

4 — MANDATED REPORTERS OF ELDER ABUSE

Existing law requires certain professionals to notify DSS when they reasonably suspect an elderly person (1) has been abused, neglected, abandoned, or exploited or (2) needs protective services. The act adds to the list of mandated reporters anyone paid by an institution, organization, agency, or facility to care for an elderly person, including employees of (1) community-based services providers, (2) senior centers, (3) home care and homemaker-companion agencies, (4) adult day care centers, (5) village-model communities, and (6) congregate housing facilities.

The act requires the employers of these individuals to (1) provide mandatory training on detecting potential elder abuse and neglect and (2) inform staff of the mandatory reporting requirements.

5 — DSS REPORT ON ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT COMPLAINTS

By July 1, 2014, the act requires the DSS commissioner or his designee to begin annually reporting to the Aging, Human Services, and Public Health committees on:

1. the number of elder abuse and neglect complaints received in the previous calendar year in the categories of (a) physical abuse, (b) mental abuse, (c) self-neglect, (d) neglect by others, and (e) financial exploitation;

2. the disposition of these complaints; and

3. whether and by how much complaints in each category have increased or decreased from the previous year.

OLR Tracking: ND: KLM: JKL: ts