Another hurricane season is in full swing, and most of Florida’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes still are not in compliance with laws put into effect last year after Hurricane Irma. State requirements for adding generators to these long-term care facilities were mandated after 14 residents died last year after their nursing home lost power in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s destruction.
The generator issue became a topic of debate after the deaths of several residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power to their air conditioning system for days following the storm. Within days of their deaths, Florida Governor Rick Scott imputed a law requiring nursing homes to install backup generators that would maintain cooler temperatures if there were to be another power outage. Facilities had 60 days to be in compliance.
The industry pushed back against the rules and the deadline was pushed back to July 1. By September 1, only 170 nursing homes had installed generators and not even half of Florida’s 3,441 assisted living facilities had complied with the generation installation requirement according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration.
The facilities claim that the hold up has been due to getting plans in place and approvals for the plans, as well as setting up fuel sources, a shortage of generators, and waiting lists for contractors. Over three-quarters of the 684 nursing homes licensed in Florida have yet to comply the law that says a generator must be installed to maintain a temperature of 81 degrees or less for a minimum of 96 hours.
In addition to the generator issue, another safety concern was raised after Hurricane Irma regarding nursing homes. When power is lost, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not a priority for having the electricity restored like hospitals.
Each county must submit a priority restoration list to the electric utility company serving the area, and nursing homes and assisted living facilities rarely make the lists. State officials believe that nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be a priority restoration, but the electric companies disagree saying priority lists cannot mandate an order for restoration when it comes to a large disaster like Hurricane Irma.
Nursing Homes Law and Patient Care
Just like all other states, Florida’s nursing home laws are made to provide patients with specific standards of treatment and basic rights. They protect the safety, comfort, and health of nursing home patients. Nursing homes are meant to be supportive and clean for the residents who reside there.
In addition, patients are entitled to certain services such as social interaction and mental health counseling. Any patients or family members of residents that feel their rights have been violated should seek the assistance of a nursing abuse and neglect attorney.
Patient Standard of Living
Florida laws state that nursing home and assisted living residents are entitled to a certain set of rights when living at a long-term care facility. These laws require that the assisted living or nursing home facility provide their residents with a comfortable, safe, clean, and homelike environment.
Facilities are required to provide their patients with bedding, clean clothes, and comfortable living quarters. They should have access to hot water, clean drinking water, comfortable temperatures, and adequate lighting. In addition, facilities must be equipped with rails, ramps, and other safety features.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must also provide their residents with nutritious meals, daily exercise, medication, social activities, emergency care, and a living space free from abuse.
Staffing Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities
When it comes to the staff at nursing homes, the Florida Department of Health has a specific set of guidelines for this, too. Every nursing home is required to have experienced staff and qualified healthcare practitioners. To be qualified, education and certification requirements must be completed before being permitted to work.
Florida laws require that each nursing home have at least one dietician, one physician, and one nurse available. Staff must also be required to pass a required criminal background check according to Florida’s standards and regulations.
What Constitutes Neglect?
Neglect in Florida is defined as a caregiver’s failure to meet or provide an individual’s basic needs for things like food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and medical care. Failure to provide these things puts an individual at risk of infection, illness, deterioration, and compromised safety.
While neglect is often associated with the caregiver, it can also be caused by the individual themselves. Self-neglect is the result when a resident is unable or unwilling to provide or maintain for themselves.
Nursing home and assisted living facilities must also provide their patients with a safe environment which includes an environment that is functional, safe, comfortable, and sanitary. Failure to provide this type of environment can result in neglect, or much worse consequences like the tragedies that were seen after Hurricane Irma.
Nursing Home Neglect can be Prevented
There is no reason for any of our elderly population to be neglected. Florida’s laws were put into place to prevent such cases, including the law for backup generators at nursing home and assisted living facilities. Neglect of the elderly population is unnecessary and can be prevented.
If you feel that you or your loved one that is living in a nursing home or assisted living facility is being subjected to neglect, it is imperative that you take steps to stop the neglect. Seeking the assistance of a nursing home neglect attorney is one of the most important steps you can take in protecting yourself or your loved one.
The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi have decades of experience helping their clients escape nursing home and assisted living neglect. They can help you or your loved one receive the compensation you deserve for having to endure such needless treatment. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.