Older Adult Priority Issues

KABC Director Mitzi McFatrich has appeared before three committees since the 2019 Kansas legislature convened on Jan. 14.

During the early weeks of the session, committees hear from consumer advocates, provider organizations and State agencies. McFatrich had the opportunity to present to the House Committee on Children and Seniors and to the House Social Services Budget Committee about the key issues affecting older adults and KABC’s legislative priorities.

Specifically, she talked to the committees about the ongoing misuse and overuse of antipsychotic drugs on older adults with dementia in Kansas nursing facilities. Kansas currently ranks 42nd worst in the country for the overuse of these drugs. McFatrich told the committee that Kansas has made little progress since 2011 when it was 46th worst, falling to 51st worst during 2017-2018. She underscored KABC’s recommendation that older adults and their families have the right to be fully informed about the side-effects of these drugs and their right to refuse treatment. These rights should be enforced by passage of legislation that would require written, informed consent be obtained before the drugs are administered.

McFatrich continues to stress to policy-makers the importance of a fully staffed, well-trained, and on-time annual nursing home inspection process. Kansas has not been in compliance with the federal requirement that facilities be inspected on average every 12 months. In 2018, Kansas nursing homes were inspected between 17-22 months; assisted living facilities were averaging 17-36 months. KDADS recently reported that inspections are occurring closer to 16-17 months, still beyond the 12 months required by law.

The backlog of inspections has been generated in large part by chronic understaffing of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) unit responsible for the oversight of nursing homes. Fully staffed at 60 inspectors, the unit has been short 18-22 staff in 2018. Some progress has been made with additional funding to make surveyor salaries more competitive, and the unit is currently down 12 staff. McFatrich told the committee that delays in inspections allow harm to residents to go unchecked and facilities to have uncorrected/non-compliant health and safety practices go on longer. Read the full report here.