What You Need To Know About California Assembly Bill 1911

What You Need To Know About California Assembly Bill 1911

California Assembly member Eloise Gómez Reyes introduced Assembly Bill 1911 (AB 1911) to the California State Assembly in January 2024. This bill seeks to reform the Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) reporting system. If signed into law by the Governor’s office, the bill’s planned changes would make RCFE complaint investigation processes faster and more efficient for those living in assisted care facilities.

Get to know the bill’s planned changes, what this means for you if you have loved ones in an assisted living facility, and how a nursing home abuse attorney can represent your family’s interests during an investigation.

What is an RCFE?

An RCFE in California provides housing, personal care, and limited medical assistance to elderly individuals who do not require the intensive medical care provided by nursing homes. RCFEs, also known as assisted living facilities, focus on helping residents with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals.

Unlike nursing homes, which are equipped to provide comprehensive medical services and are staffed with healthcare professionals like registered nurses, RCFEs cater to residents who are mostly independent but may need some assistance with daily tasks. These facilities include the following:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Independent living communities
  • Nursing homes
  • Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)
  • Memory care facilities
  • Adult family homes
  • Senior co-housing communities
  • Respite care homes
  • Hospice care centers
  • Rehabilitation centers

RCFEs provide a more residential, home-like environment, but this does not mean they are held to the same standards of care and legal reporting processes.

Current Challenges in Reporting a Residential Care Facility

Currently, families of residents in long-term care facilities in California face a complex, non-transparent system for reporting a facility for mistreatment. Nursing homes are regulated by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which has a mandatory nursing home complaint investigation process.

Alternatively, RCFEs are regulated by the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD). Although the CCLD outlines a complaint investigation process, it is voluntary. This means they are not required to acknowledge complaints within specific timeframes or provide timely updates, which often creates the following challenges:

  • Discretionary investigation initiation. CCLD has the authority to determine whether to start an investigation and to classify a complaint as substantiated or not. As a result, some complaints may remain unresolved if they are considered not to align with specific criteria.
  • Lack of mandatory notifications. The CCLD complaint process requires reporting issues through their hotline. Although CCLD commits to sending a written acknowledgment of complaints within 10 days, state law does not mandate this. This can result in transparency and communication issues.
  • No set deadlines for investigations. Unlike the CDPH, which requires a nursing home investigation report within 90 days, CCLD is not legally obligated to deliver a report within a specified timeframe. This lack of a mandated deadline can delay the resolution of cases, particularly those concerning resident health and safety.
  • Restricted appeals process. Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) lack a formal process for appealing investigation results, which restricts the avenues available for families to seek recourse if they disagree with the findings.

Changes Planned By Assembly Bill 1911

California Assembly Bill 1911 (AB 1911) is intended to change the RCFE reporting and complaint investigation process to bring them more in line with the system for nursing homes. If passed, it would introduce numerous changes to Section 1569.35 of the Health and Safety Code, making the process more transparent and responsive to complaints.

The new changes are set to go into effect on July 1, 2025 and will include:

Aspect

Proposed Changes

Method of Filing Complaints

Authorizes any person to file a complaint with the department against a residential care facility, either orally or in writing.

Onsite Investigation Timing

Requires an onsite investigation within one business day if the complaint alleges imminent danger of death or serious harm.

Preliminary Communication

Prior to conducting an on-site investigation, the department must notify the complainant of the complaint tracking number, proposed actions, investigator’s contact information, nature of allegations, and investigation deadlines.

Notification of Non-investigation

Requires the department to inform the complainant within 10 days if an investigation is not warranted, including the reason for this determination.

Investigation Deadlines

Requires completing investigations within 60 days, or within 30 days if there is imminent danger, for complaints received from July 1, 2025. Extensions can be granted for good cause, with required documentation.

Outcome Notification

Requires notification within 10 business days after investigation completion, including the right to seek an informal conference and a copy of any reports describing violations and enforcement actions.

Appeals Process

Authorizes complainants to appeal the department’s determination, providing a process for an informal conference and further review by the deputy director if dissatisfied with the initial resolution.

What AB 1911 Could Mean for You and Your Loved One

If you have a family member or a loved one residing in an RCFE, the passage of Assembly Bill 1911 offers you a transparent process for reporting abuse or neglect in an RCFE. Under AB 1911, you and your loved one can benefit from:

  • More guarantees and better follow-up. The process for reporting an assisted living facility would become more transparent, similar to reporting abuse or neglect in a nursing home. The tracking number and deadline guarantees allow you to monitor the progress of your case, and ensure your complaints are heard and that you are kept informed.
  • Assurance of timely action. The stricter timelines for RCFE investigations and notifications mean that, as long as an investigation has been launched, you will get a response from CCLD.
    To ensure the agency takes your complaint seriously, work with a nursing home abuse attorney to gather documentation of the mistreatment so you can submit it to the CCLD. This can include photographs, witness statements, or medical records showing the harm to your loved one.
  • Immediate investigation in critical situations. With AB 1911, if a complaint involves allegations of imminent danger of death or serious harm, the investigation is expedited to start within one business day. This quick response ensures that any severe risks to your loved one are addressed urgently, providing an added layer of safety and protection for those in critical situations.
  • Clear path for appeals. The new rules create a formal appeals process for complainants. This gives you multiple opportunities to appeal investigation results you aren’t satisfied with, including the right to request informal meetings and a formal review request.
    If you appeal the investigation results, the new rules also allow you to seek assistance and representation from another party. For example, you may contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to help strengthen your case, receive guidance, and ensure a favorable resolution for your loved one.

 

Protect Your Family and Loved Ones From Abuse and Neglect

Assembly Bill 1911 is a step in the right direction for families and friends of assisted living patients, ensuring they have the same rights as nursing home residents. The passage of this law means that RCFEs would be held to similar standards of scrutiny and investigation as nursing homes, including guarantees of notification, appropriate follow-up, and access to a structured appeals process.

If you have a loved one in assisted living care and suspect they are being abused or neglected, the changes proposed in AB 1911 can provide you with more options to address the situation.