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Florida Assisted Living Workgroup’s Recommendations Weak

Late last year, in response to the 2011 Miami Herald series on substantial abuse and neglect suffered at Florida’s assisted living facilities, the governor-appointed Florida Assisted Living Workgroup released its final report.

Our Hallandale nursing home abuse lawyers are not impressed – and neither are numerous elderly advocacy groups and editorial boards across the state. As the Orlando Sentinel put it: The ideas lack bite.

Even if they were well-intentioned, they don’t mean much and are unlikely to result in any real change.

Part of the problem as we see it is that the review board was stacked with representatives within the assisted living facility industry. Among them: chief of the Florida Assisted Living Association, chief of the Florida Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, chief of the Florida Health Care Association and four nursing home directors. That’s 7 out of the 12 members of the work group.

The report has a long list of slight tweaks here and there, most of them cosmetic in nature. But there is no real effort to adopt any meaningful policy reforms that would protect our elderly population.

Just one example of this is that the reports says that the regulations in place are enough. It say the current state regulations are sufficient and no further action is necessary in this regard. But let’s consider that under these regulations, we had people who were left unattended in their own filth. People were falling ill with fatal – but preventable – diseases. People were being given too-high doses of sedatives to keep them compliant and “easy.” In extreme cases, people were being restrained and beaten and even sexually abused. In at least 70 cases since 2002, assisted living facility residents died in Florida as a direct result of abuse or neglect.

But, according to the review board, the current regulations are just fine?

Another example of a hard-line, effective action that was rejected was a proposal to ban assisted living facility managers from continuing to work in the field if they had previously lost their license while running a facility where blatant abuse or a death had occurred. How does this make sense?

Meanwhile, among the measures approved is the suggestion that the quality of available activities for nursing home residents be improved. This is certainly a measure worth implementing – but should it receive precedence over real protection reforms?

If this wasn’t enough to convince you of the bias of this group, consider that one of the recommendations was to help shield nursing homes from lawsuits by either patients or family members who had suffered abuse, neglect or negligence. Who – and what – was this group concerned with protecting? Clearly, it was not the welfare and safety of our assisted living facility residents. It appears that the bigger concern was ensuring that the managers and owners of these facilities weren’t going to be shoulder any more responsibility or liability.

The Florida Assisted Living Workgroup’s full final report can be read here.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
What we think: Ideas lack bite to fight assisted-living hazards, Dec. 16, 2012, Editorial Board, Orlando Sentinel

More Blog Entries:
Southern Nursing Home Operator Accused of Profits Over Patients, Dec. 23, 2012, Hallandale Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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