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Will Florida’s new nursing home law lead to more abuse?

Robert F. Spohrer

Older adults flock to Florida when they decide to retire. Some of them live as snowbirds, traveling back and forth between the state where their family lives in the summer and Florida during the cooler months. Others will permanently move to Florida to benefit from the climate and amenities around the state all year.

There are hundreds of nursing homes supporting full-time Florida residents around the state, and they are subject to state and federal regulations establishing specific care standards. Unfortunately, a recent law that adjusted care requirements reduced the support and protections in place for those living in nursing homes and could lead to more cases of abuse and neglect.

How did the law change?

Previously, if a nursing home failed to meet safety standards during an inspection, they could no longer take in new residents until they resolve the issue. That will no longer be the case, meaning that a facility providing inadequate care could start taking on numerous new residents.

Additionally, the state has reduced the direct care requirements under the law. After the governor signed HP 1239 into law, it went to effect in April. Nursing homes must have enough staff on hand to provide only two hours of direct patient care per individual per day under the changes. That is a 20% reduction from the prior two-and-a-half-hour requirement.

Nursing professionals throughout the state have warned that this may lead to the preventable deaths of countless older adults.

Understaffing is a warning sign of abuse and neglect

When you go to a nursing home and see that there are very few employees present or dirty facilities, you have every reason to worry about neglect impacting your loved one. Untreated or worsening medical issues, bedsores and infestations are among some of the consequences of neglect in nursing homes. Frustrated and overworked staff may also become physically or verbally abusive toward residents.

Listening to your loved one, visiting regularly and demanding a better standard of care for them they all be necessary steps when you suspect nursing home abuse. Advocating for your loved one may be the only way to protect them from nursing home abuse and neglect as they age.