Advocates for changes at assisted living facilities meet with lawmakers

Posted at 4:32 PM, Jan 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-16 18:23:17-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- It started six months ago when Carol Garbo shared her mother’s story with the CBS 6 Problem Solvers.

“It’s just that there’s not enough staffing,” Garbo said to her group as they waited outside the General Assembly for Lobby Day on Monday.

Now, Garbo and a group of advocates for changes at assisted living facilities, gathered at the GA to support two bills (SB 1191 and HB 1919) that would increase the maximum penalties the state could hand out to assisted living facilities for violations.

They’re also trying to get the legislature to support SJ 266, which would order a study by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission into staffing level mandates in other states to see how Virginia compares.

Carol Garbo

Carol Garbo

“The game plan is try to reach as many as our representatives as possible,” Garbo said.

Garbo led the way by telling her story to numerous delegates and senators on both sides of the aisle.

“We had 18 falls, five of them sent her to the ER,” she told lawmakers of the 11 weeks her mother lived at an assisted living facility in Chesterfield.

“Do you think is something you could get behind?” she asked at the end of her story.

Some legislators told us they had no idea that the state only mandates two direct care staff members in a dementia unit at an assisted living facility no matter the number of residents.

“I did not, no I didn’t know that so I think this is a good thing,” Senator Mamie Locke, from Hampton, said.

Carol Garbo advocating to lawmakers.

Carol Garbo advocating to lawmakers.

“I’m a little shocked,” Senator Lashrecse Aird, from Petersburg, said.

Others talked about efforts in the past to improve assisted living care and expressed concerns about cost.

“This is something we’ve struggled with over the years and I think we’ve made significant improvements in our oversight,” Senator Emmett Hanger, from Staunton, said.

“It’s a very complicated, many facets to the problem, almost all of them cost money and there-in becomes the problem,” Delegate Bobby Orrock, representing parts of Caroline and Spotsylvania counties, said.

Still, Garbo and her group left feeling confident and empowered to keep pushing despite the challenges.

“I think our group has made a difference, it might be small at this point, but I think it can only grow,” Garbo said.

Carol Garbo is now asking for other Virginians to speak out if they aren't satisfied with the care their loved one is receiving in an assisted living facility.

She is asking community members to join her team and contact your legislator and ask them to support changes.

You can call, write, or even visit their office in person.

CBS 6 News is working for you. Click here to email a tip to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers. Be sure to leave us your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672.



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