A series of four articles in Miami’s newspaper the Herald, titled Neglected to Death and pubished in 2011, highlighted horrible instances of neglect at senior communities and also the failure of local authorities to detect and prevent these horrific problems. The series revealed the ghastly and unacceptable fact that “at least one ALF resident dies from starvation, beatings or neglect at little-regulated homes in Florida per month.” And the fourth part of the series described how the local authorities that oversee assisted living facilities were actually decreasing the quantity of inspections despite an increase in the number of facilities and an uptick in instances of dangerous violations. The fourth part of the Herald series also described how some law makers in Florida had attempted to slacken oversight yet more.
This series received a large amount of attention and has helped to turn the tide in favor of assisted living residents in Florida. A January 16th article in the Tampa Bay Times says that lawmakers are in Tallahassee are now actively working to reform assisted living regulation and increase oversight over facilities rather that loosen it. Lawmakers are considering stricter punishments for facilities that violate regulations, and an increase in the number of unannounced visits. Legislators are also seeking input from the public. At a recent public hearing held by lawmakers, elder advocates showed up to make their voices heard, many of whom clutched two-year-old copies of the Miami Herald’s Neglected to Death series that had moved them so much.
No decisions have been made and no new laws passed, but Eleanor Sobel, head of Florida’s Senate committee in charge of elder affairs said she’s determined to move legislation forward. We’ll keep you posted on future developments.