Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has a website aimed at helping elders get high-quality care. The need for the program and website stems from the fact that the elderly at a number of care facilities in Florida and across the country are subject to nursing home and elder abuse. Elderly abuse leads to high levels of stress and can lead to depression. In some cases, abuse leads to personal injuries or even death, as those in care facilities are not always able to defend themselves from or survive an attack.
Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program encourages anyone with a complaint to call the program or write a letter in order to launch an investigation. This complaint can be confidential. Some residents also have success in contacting an attorney, who can act as both advocate and investigator in order to resolve the problem and to ensure that the resident is provided with a safe environment. Residents can also call the Department of Elder Affairs, the Agency for Health Care Administration, or even the Department of Children & Families. In emergencies, it may be advisable to call 911 to contact local law enforcement for immediate help.
Any resident of a long-term care facility in the state of Florida retains the citizen rights they had outside the facility. In addition, residents have special “Residents’ Rights” protected by federal and state law. By law, long-term care facilities must place these rights where they can easily be seen by residents and must offer a copy of these rights to every resident entering the facility.
Abuse can happen in any type of facility that caters to the elderly. In Florida, there are three major types of facilities catering to the elderly:
1) Assisted Living Facilities. Under Chapter 400, Part III, Florida Statutes, these facilities are defined as complexes or homes where up to 500 residents live and receive help. These facilities may offer transportation, kitchen units, and other amenities.
2) Nursing Homes. Under Chapter 400, Part II, Florida Statutes, these are defined as facilities that offer 24-hour-per-day professional nursing care, room and board, medical treatment, personal care and custodial care. Staff help residents with daily tasks and recreation activities.
3) Adult Family Care Homes. Under Chapter 400, Part VII, Florida Statutes, this facility has a maximum of 5 elderly residents in a home-type environment. In this type of facility, staff offer room, board, and any help the residents need.
All these facilities are covered by laws regarding care and all must adhere to specific laws. If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse at any of these facilities, you are protected by the law and have a right to seek help.