Protecting the Elderly in Florida’s Assisted Living Centers

Workers in an assisted living facility near Cleveland found an 82-year-old woman submerged in a deep whirlpool bathtub.  She drowned.  According to Pro Publica, there were instructions that she not be left alone.  Workers were supposed to stand by during bath time “for safety.”  Accident reports indicate that she was left unsupervised for at least an hour when the drowning happened.

13722035422az6r

Florida was one of the first states to regulate assisted-living facilities, establishing legislation to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. But a collaborative investigation by various sources has raised questions about cases of abuse and deaths in Florida facilities.

Our nursing homes abuse attorneys  understand that, over the last 20 years, assisted living has undergone a serious transformation. What began as a grassroots movement aimed at creating a innovating and humane alternative to nursing homes has become a multi-billion dollar industry that houses some close to 1 million seniors in America. Assisted-living facilities, at least initially, were created to provide housing, meals and assistance to elderly residents who could no longer safely live on their own.  However, many have moved far beyond that in scope. Today, workers are often required to manage these individuals and manage complex medication regimens.  Even safeguarding those for whom walking to the bathroom can be dangerous, and handling people who are so incapacitated they can be a threat to themselves or others.  Despite the demands, a large number of homes fall short of state regulations and even staffing minimums.

In 14 states throughout the country, workers don’t even need a high school diploma to be employed in these facilities.  In some states, like Illinois, workers only have to be 16-years-old to be employed.  Some states don’t even require a licensed nurse on staff.

Each and every state, including Florida, has the right to shut down a facility deemed dangerous.  Unfortunately, that rarely happens.   In California, facilities routinely pay as little as $150 for cases in which residents have died because of poor care offered by the home.

Before selecting a home for your elderly loved one, we recommend that you do some research.  Education and informed decisions will help to ensure that your loved ones are better off.  The Nursing Home Guide from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) offers lists of nursing homes by region and county. The Guide also includes facility-specific comparative data that includes a star ranking based upon deficiencies cited during a facility’s inspections.

You may have other long-term care options, like community services, home care, or assisted living, depending on your needs and resources. It’s also possible you may be eligible for home and community-based services covered by Medicaid.

Know the facts before making your decision.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the Hollander Law Form at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.  There is no fee unless we win.