New nursing home legislation would strengthen elder care ombudsman – Sun Sentinel
The latest are identical bills filed Tuesday by state Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and state Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, that give new teeth to Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which records show has regularly turned up fewer complaints each year under Gov. Rick Scott.
Many of the bills, including those of Edwards and Farmer, require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators capable of powering air conditioning in the event of a power loss.
Under Tuesday’s bills, the Ombudsman program, which is supposed to look out for residents in Florida’s 683 nursing homes and thousands of assisted living facilities, would be allowed to conduct undercover operations inside nursing homes, posing as patients or employees, to look for abuse and neglect.
“They say we’ll leave it to the industry, but I’m thinking I’m not liking what I’m hearing back,” Edwards said. “I had to call too many county commissioners and police departments post-storm to tell them to go by and check on a facility.”
A Facebook post complaining about a lack of power at a facility in Sunrise led Edwards to notify city authorities, who checked on the Sunrise assisted living facility and found it had been without power for three days after Hurricane Irma.
Edwards said that experience led her to believe an Ombudsman’s office with greater autonomy is needed if new generator regulations are to be enforced.
With the new legislation, the Ombudsman office would be contracted out to a nonprofit