Regulations shouldn't stifle homes for agedI am writing to...


September 28, 1997

Regulations shouldn't stifle homes for aged

I am writing to thank Caitlin Francke for her article on group homes that appeared in The Sun in Howard on Sept. 14 ("Group homes rise as option for elderly"). Ms. Francke examined the growing need that the frail elderly have for assisted living facilities, and how entrepreneurs are providing such care in a homelike environment at affordable cost.

In the same edition, Norris West also wrote a very supportive column regarding the training of individuals to provide elder care in group homes as part of the Jobs First program.

Ms. Francke noted in her article that the state was proposing regulations for group homes, and that these could adversely affect the financial viability of Howard's group homes. She is quite right. For nearly one year, the state has been trying to formulate regulations that would apply to all assisted living facilities, regardless of their size.

They would apply to a group home with five residents as well as a large assisted living facility with 100 residents. Although the goal of such regulations may be salutary, two underlying assumptions are faulty.

First is the assumption that any abuse or neglect in assisted living facilities can be cured by imposing regulations. If this assumption were valid, there would be no abuse or neglect occurring in nursing homes, one of the most highly regulated industries in the state. Obviously, that is not the case. Abuse and neglect will continue until such time as long-term care providers are held liable for such actions, and until we, as a society, stop ignoring our frail elderly once they are placed in a long-term care facility.

Second is the assumption that standardized regulations can be applied equally to small and large providers alike. Clearly, it is easier for the regulator to have one set of regulations. But for regulations to be effective, the needs and problems of the entities being regulated must be incorporated into them. A "one size fits all" set of regulations cannot accomplish this. Assuming that additional regulations are even needed, this approach ignores the realities faced every day in the assisted living facilities.

This fall, the proposed assisted living regulations will be presented to the legislature. These regulations must be closely reviewed by our legislators, and hard questions asked, or else the entrepreneurial response to the need for assisted living facilities described by Ms. Francke may be dampened, if not extinguished. We cannot allow that to happen.

Michael W. Davis


Driver was at fault in Diana's death

There has been much publicity concerning the death of Princess Diana and who was at fault. Was it the driver or the paparazzi? I believe it was the fault of the driver. For one thing, the driver was drunk. Second, he was driving at an unsafe speed.

The photographs show that on the curve which led into the tunnel, there was a dip in the road. When you are turning at accelerated speeds and you hit a dip while turning, it causes your rear tires to slip from the road, sending you out of control. Although the paparazzi provoked the driver, they did not cause him to lose control. It was the driver's fault. He had the wheel. He had the pedals. He crashed the car, killing Diana.

Phil Wildemann

Ellicott City

Soccer, Howard's official sport

I think soccer should be a mandatory sport in schools in Howard because almost everybody in the county plays it. Personally, I think it's the best sport in the world.

I love the feeling of winning, and I think everyone else likes it, too. Even if you lose, you still win. I enjoy the way the ball looks when spinning in the air. Soccer is so much fun.

It is great exercise and is good for eye-foot coordination. That's why I like soccer and think everyone should play.

Michael Meehan


Killing deer should be only a last resort

I am writing about the letter of Sept. 7 by Joseph Lerner about the deer population ("Deer cause damage, should be harvested").

I understand that there is a huge deer population and that deers cause vehicle collisions and crop damage, but I don't agree with his "Kill them and eat them" solution. We shouldn't just kill them because they are pests. They are living animals and we need to come up with a better solution. I think that we should try to have more patience with them and kill them only in the rarest situations.

Heather O'Donnell


Gated community would ruin spirit of Columbia

Thanks to my parents' decision to move to Columbia in 1979, my childhood was filled with neighbors I knew, parks to play in and an easy walk to school. Moving back to Columbia two years ago after college was an easy choice.

So it is a rude shock to learn that the Rouse Co. wants to build a gated community in the heart of Columbia.

This divisive intrusion goes against the core of Jim Rouse's vision for Columbia -- community. How will I meet my new neighbors, when they live behind a guardhouse and a wall?

The answer is that I won't, and they will live, paradoxically, surrounded by Columbia but not as a living part of it.

Columbia is not, has never been and should never become just another sterile suburb for rich people seeking escape. Columbia is about neighbors talking with each other, families bringing up their children together and a multi-cultural atmosphere that celebrates diversity and the joy that comes from learning we all have something to contribute to society.

Gates don't enhance that. They destroy it.

Jonathan T. Alloy


Pub Date: 9/28/97

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