Seniors close to having a voice in governance

Senior citizens across the state should know that their collective voices, represented by the Organization of Residents Associations of New Jersey (ORANJ), have taken another major step in their long road to rightful representation on their governing boards of directors.

Despite age and infirmity, residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) from around the state traveled to Trenton on Feb. 26 and March 12 to support passage of a bill vital to their interests.

The main requirements of the two bills (S-425/A-3989) that moved forward on strong votes are:

+ Residents must be given the opportunity to speak directly with trustees on governing boards rather than have their voice mediated by the CEO or other staff member even though the CEO may be a trustee;

+ Consultation and discussion between the board of trustees and residents must take place before any proposed action is taken that might significantly affect the well-being of the residents or the financial stability of the facility;

+ At least one resident nominated by the residents must be selected by the board as a full member of the board of directors.

These provisions ensure that, as Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Mon-mouth and Middlesex), vice chairwoman of the health panel, said, “Seniors’ rights to representative government do not end at the retirement home door.”

To date, identical bills have passed the health and senior citizens committees of both the state Senate and Assembly and the full body of the Senate.

The Assembly bill only awaits passage in the full body of the Assembly, then moves to the governor for signature.

I see this progress as a significant achievement for ORANJ, which is the representative body for approximately 10,000 residents of continuing care retirement communities in the state.

An enormous amount of behind-the-scenes effort culminated in the testimony by members of the ORANJ legislative committee.

Passage of this legislation would be a significant victory for senior citizens of this state. It would allow New Jersey to take its place alongside the five states that already mandate resident participation on boards of trustees in all continuing care retirement communities.

Gary A. Baldwin


Organization of Residents

Associations of New Jersey

Tinton Falls