San Diego, California - The County of San Diego is getting tougher on nursing homes and elder care facilities that provide inadequate care to older and vulnerable adults.

The Board of Supervisors approved a package of reforms today that will create a special prosecution unit in the District Attorney’s Office, expand the County’s long-term care ombudsman program and develop a ratings system for care facilities.

The initiatives would:

· Double the number of full-time patient advocates in the long-term care ombudsman program from four to eight. An ombudsman investigates patient complaints related to care and abuse. The increased staffing would allow the office to expand training and inspection coverage at care facilities, improve community education and increase the resolution rate for complaints.

· Create a special eight-person unit in the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against any resident of a long-term care facility.

· Develop a grading system or type of seal to help families find quality care facilities. The County will work with a group of residential care facility operators, the Better Business Bureau and other community groups to come up with the standards for grading or the awarding of a seal.

· Advocate for legislation that would increase state inspections and fines, create a patient rights program and make other reforms that would improve the health and safety of long-term care facility residents. The state’s Community Care Licensing Division has the primary responsibility for regulating, inspecting and penalizing care facilities.