When Florida’s legislative session closed earlier this year, legislators had not passed any laws designed to address the problems of assisted living facility neglect. Despite the efforts of the governor’s ALF task force and other advocacy groups, the House and Senate were unable to come to an agreement on any laws that sought to fix the broken system. Fearing it would damage the fragile but necessary system, the House refused to pass a Senate-approved bill that would increase ALF inspections and shut down facilities that repeatedly broke laws.
This non-action left residents no recourse and added no new safety precautions to protect them against possible ALF abuse. Elder care advocates, including assisted living facility neglect lawyers, were concerned that nothing would ever be done. But News Press reports the governor’s task force is reconvening in June with new members who will represent the interests of residents. After three meetings, the group will send recommendations to Governor Scott in September.
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Volunteers for Florida’s long-term care ombudsman program are hopeful that this year changes will be made to address assisted living facility abuse. Previous recommendations from the task force included increasing the amount of inspections performed, especially of facilities with a record of abuse or neglect. The force also recommended more consistent data reporting, increasing qualification requirements for administrators, and improving training for staff members.
The ombudsman program volunteers also hope the task force includes suggestions to address the eviction process. As previously discussed, residents can be evicted for no reason and with little warning. Advocates want to change the law so that facilities have to follow a procedure similar to that of nursing homes.