For most families, deciding to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision. It comes with guilt, worrying about whether you chose the right place, and whether your loved one will be taken care of adequately.
The reality is that when you first research a place, they may wax poetic about how wonderful their facilities are and about how caring their staff is. That’s part of the sales industry, and that’s exactly what they’re trying to do – sell you on the idea of choosing their location. And yes, there are places with responsible individuals caring for their residents, but it’s not uncommon to hear stories about places where the elderly aren’t treated or supervised well. What can you do to find out whether supervision is suitable?
What are Florida laws regarding nursing homes?
The first thing to know is that what should be considered as adequate care is not subjective. Florida law is specific about the rights of nursing home residents – so much so that Florida Statutes Section 429.28 establishes a Resident Bill of Rights. Among these are included the following:
- To live in a safe environment, free from abuse and neglect
- Retain use of their own personal belongings in their own living quarters
- Unrestricted private communications
- Visiting hours, at a minimum, of 9 AM to 9 PM
- Visiting hours shall be extended for caregivers and out-of-town guests
- Share a room with a spouse if both are residents in the same facility
- Assistance with obtaining healthcare
How do I know if there is inadequate supervision at a nursing home?
There are many ways a nursing home could be found to have been negligent in the care of a resident. Any time there’s a breach of their duty of care, and your loved one has experienced an injury as a result of that breach, you have a cause of action for inadequate supervision. Some examples include: Receiving the wrong medication or an accidental overdose. Signs that this has occurred include sleeping more than usual or feeling lethargic or disoriented. Be mindful of unusual or abnormal characteristics.
- Physical injuries. While it’s possible to have minor bruises due to bumping into things, it’s not normal to see them regularly. Any time you have a concern or a feeling something may not be right, ask staff directly about it.
- Your loved one doesn’t want to associate with a staff member. Regardless of whether your family member has dementia or significantly advanced age, always take their concerns seriously. Ask them why they don’t like a particular caregiver and follow up on it.
- Distinct changes in your loved one. This could be changes in personality or signs that something else may be wrong, such as sunken eyes, weight loss, or dizziness. Ask other residents if they’ve noticed any recent changes.
- You notice signs of neglect on property. If broken items such as stairwell banisters, elevators, or the air conditioner aren’t fixed immediately, you see unattended residents in common areas, or notice a high staff turn over, these are all signs that should be investigated as soon as possible. You can get the process started by contacting the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, which requires all nursing homes to be licensed annually and inspected by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Inspections are unannounced and include interviewing residents and family members.
Call Us to Discuss Your Case
If you believe a family member is being neglected at a nursing home, let us help. The longer you wait, the more damage could be caused to your loved one and the harder it may become to gather evidence.
At Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A., we have experienced attorneys who can best design a strategy to help you.
Contact us, and let’s discuss your case.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.