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Campaign to Stop Drugging Takes New Direction

CANHR’s remarkably successful 2009 legislative advocacy campaign produced important new laws that will help protect assisted living facility residents from improper evictions, curtail inappropriate marketing of reverse mortgages to seniors, aid residents of Continuing Care Retirement Facilities during closures and provide emergency funding for the local long term care ombudsman programs. For details, see the Legislative Update in this issue.

The legislative campaign came to a disappointing end, however, with Governor Schwarzenegger’s last-minute veto of SB 303 (Alquist), a landmark bill that sought to reduce the rampant drugging of nursing home residents in California. SB 303 would have required doctors to inform residents about the dangers of mind-altering drugs and required nursing homes to verify that residents or their representatives had given consent before these drugs could be used.

Misuse of psychoactive drugs has reached epidemic proportions in California. Of greatest concern is the widespread use of antipsychotic drugs, an especially powerful and dangerous class of psychoactive drugs. In his veto message, the Governor admitted that misuse of antipsychotic drugs is a pervasive problem in nursing homes. He cited a recent study that found more than half of residents on antipsychotics are being drugged outside federal guidelines, yet vetoed the bill anyway. The Governor gave no explanation for his veto, which put the interests of substandard nursing homes and unethical doctors above elderly and disabled nursing home residents.

The Governor’s veto cannot diminish what SB 303 has already accomplished, which is greatly increas- ing public attention to the drugging of nursing home residents. We must keep the spotlight on this serious problem.

In 2010, CANHR will take the campaign against drugging to a new level, focusing on educational and advocacy initiatives. CANHR’s 2010 Families for Better Care Campaign will provide information and support to help consumers fight misuse of mind altering drugs. Together with other advocacy organizations, CANHR will be preparing and distributing new educational materials and videos, circulating a petition, establishing a new drugging-related blog, seeking stronger enforcement of current laws, informing the media, and tracking misuse of drugs on our website.

Watch CANHR’s website for details in January. Your help is greatly needed.

Page Last Modified: March 10, 2010