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Bill would require senior living communities to recognize essential caregivers


Tuesday, March 14, 2023  |  Article  |  Kimberly Bonvissuto

A proposed bill in Illinois would allow residents of senior living communities and other congregate long-term care settings to continue receiving essential care from a designated support person despite visitation restrictions, including those implemented under a statewide emergency.


Illinois Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) introduced Senate Bill 2322, The Essential Support Person Act, calling on the Illinois Department of Public Health to establish a statewide policy for visitation in assisted living communities, continuing care retirement communities, memory care communities, nursing homes and other congregate care settings in the event of a future public health emergency.


“There’s a lot that could have been done differently during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of those things is that no one should ever be alone, especially our most vulnerable,” Tracy said in a statement. “There is no reason that we can’t still keep residents and staff safe, while also ensuring they maintain good mental health by allowing them to see their loved ones.”


Residents would be able to designate both a primary and secondary essential support person to provide care beyond a general visit, including assistance with activities of daily living and physical, emotional, psychological and socialization support.


LeadingAge Illinois president and CEO Angela Schnepf told McKnight’s Senior Living that although communities followed public health guidance on prohibiting visitors during the pandemic, with time it became clear that social isolation contributed “significantly” to reduced quality of life for many residents.


And although communities invested in technology and staff members to provide video calling as an option for residents, Schnepf said, it “could not replace the experience of human touch from a loved one.”


“While it is obvious that everyone was working with the residents’ best interests in mind, eliminating the opportunity for our residents to be visited by their loved ones had unintended consequences that this bill would help us avoid,” she said. “This bill is a good example of applying what we learned from the COVID pandemic so that we are better prepared for similar events in the future. Residents should be surrounded by their loved ones as much as safely allowed, especially when they are near the end of life.”


Several states have passed legislation mandating that assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities allow visitation, including Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Washington.


A national essential caregivers program stalled shortly after it was introduced in 2021.


Argentum also released an Essential Caregiver Toolkit to help senior living operators establish essential caregiver programs to combat the social isolation residents experienced during the pandemic.



Illinois looks to ban 'Zoom' calls while driving

By Natalie Bomke

Published March 13, 2023 10:13PM

FOX 32 Chicago

Illinois looks to ban Zoom calls while driving

The Illinois legislation would ban video calls while driving, along with streaming videos or scanning social media on your phone.


CHICAGO - During the pandemic, some of us took multitasking to a new level.


Work from home turned into Zoom meetings in the car. Now, the Illinois Secretary of State is proposing legislation that would ban car "Zooming".


"Last year, over three-thousand people died because of distracted drivers. That’s eight people a day dying on our roads and highways," said Secretary Alexi Giannoulias.


"We want to create the same stigma for distracted driving that there is right now for drunk driving," he added.


The legislation would ban video calls while driving, along with streaming videos or scanning social media on your phone.


More than twelve-thousand people were convicted last year of distracted driving. The legislation is being co-sponsored by Chicago area legislators.


Breaking the law would result in a moving violation ticket and a maximum fine of $75 on the first offense, $100 on the second offense, $125 on the third offense, and $150 on the fourth and future offenses.


Three moving violations in a year would result in a license suspension.


Under the new rules, Zoom calls could still be conducted in moving vehicles using a hands-free device with the video turned off.