Changes for Florida’s Nursing Home Ombudsmen
Damian Mallard, Esq.
When residents of assisted living facilities, adult family-care homes, or nursing homes have complaints about the quality of care they are receiving at the facility, they often reach out to Florida’s ombudsmen. An ombudsman is a volunteer seeking to improve the care and quality of life for people who live in long-term facilities. As advocates, ombudsmen have investigated numerous nursing home abuse complaints in Florida and other quality of life complaints made by residents or their family members.
While this service remains confidential and free, the state nursing home ombudsmen program is changing some of the rules by which they play. Although the program’s goal is still to “ensure the dignity and care for those in long-term care facilities,” an ombudsmen volunteer with over ten years of service advocating for residents recently claimed that the policies have changed. Sheldon Kanars, of Port St. Lucie, told TCPalm that he was forced to step down even though he has provided stellar service. The reason? He criticized the new industry-friendly rules.
Kanars stated that in the past ombudsmen were empowered to make assessments of nursing homes, allowed to speak with residents about their concerns, and were free to walk into the residents’ rooms, kitchen, or other areas of the facility to inspect for residents’ welfare. However, at a recent meeting on the Treasure Coast, volunteers were strongly advised to leave the nursing home inspections to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and to only use their “five senses to determine if there may be a problem,” said Kanars.
The concern here is that this could allow some facilities to get away with providing poor care because the AHCA only inspects nursing homes once a year and assisted living facilities even less.
For help advocating for your rights or your family member’s rights, please call a Sarasota nursing abuse attorney at the Mallard Law Firm for a free consultation today at 888-409-3805.
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