Published: April 2, 2021

The Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division just released a report identifying actionable steps the Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, and the Oregon Legislature can take to increase safety for long-term care facility residents. This report comes after the majority of COVID-related deaths in Oregon occurred at long-term care facilities. The improvements identified in the report align with many of the policy goals SEIU 503 is prioritizing this legislative session.

Oregon has minimal state regulations on staffing, infection control, emergency preparedness, and staff and resident vaccination reporting for assisted living and residential care facilities. This lack of basic regulation and oversight results in an industry that puts profits over people and needlessly claims the lives of some of our most vulnerable community members. 

Fees and fines alone have not deterred bad behavior by facility owners. The report details more than $500,000 in civil penalties regarding infectious disease in long-term care. In addition to the unnecessary loss of life, we’re also wasting money that should be sent on quality of care rather than settling lawsuits. 

There are several pieces of legislation that would address Oregon’s long-term care crisis and help protect the health and safety of residents and workers. Here are a few key items the report highlighted and the corresponding solutions being considered by the Oregon Legislature:

  • HB 2327 sets standards around access to PPE, training, and disaster preparedness and planning requirements.
  • SB 703 focuses on the cost of care and turnover as a quality metric to understand how community-based care facilities could use support. 
  • SB 714 sets standards in memory care around acuity-based staffing. 
  • SB 266 provides Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) a path forward to enforce existing staffing ratios at facilities that are failing to meet safe staffing levels.

While there is no quick or easy fix for the issues plaguing our long-term care system, the current suite of bills would make a meaningful, immediate impact for residents and workers alike. To read the full advisory report, click here. If you want to get involved and help pass these bills to reform Oregon’s long-term care system, click here.