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Is My Mom Safe In A Florida Assisted Living Facility?

A: From our Daytona Beach, Florida nursing home and assisting living facility practice, we have noticed that assisted living facilities are dangerous for residents when the resident’s condition has deteriorated and the facility cannot provide adequate supervision. Assisted living facilities have a built-in financial incentive to admit and keep residents or patients even beyond the ability of the facility to provide proper care. Most assisted living facilities charge monthly rent. If a resident deteriorates and the facility cannot provide proper care, the facility will lose the monthly rent if it insists on the resident being transferred to another facility with skilled care and closer supervision. Thus, many assisted living facilities are reluctant to transfer patients for the greater care they need.

Assisted living facilities do not provide close supervision. In fact, they are designed to provide only limited assistance. Florida law requires a facility to obtain a certificate from a doctor describing the physical and mental condition of the resident but the facility administrator is responsible to be sure it can provide appropriate skill and staff to properly care for their residents. Florida law also requires the facility not to accept residents beyond their ability to provide proper care and specifies certain areas to focus on when making the decision. These include whether a resident requires 24-hour skilled nursing care, is bed-ridden, requires restraints, may be a threat to themselves or others and may not be able to move to a safe area during an emergency without more than minimal assistance.

Sometimes the failure of a facility to transfer to another skilled health care provider such as a hospital or nursing home can have disastrous consequences and may even result in a patient’s death. For instance, some assisted facility residents have been able to wander away from the building despite very significant dementia and inability to find their way back. In other instances, residents who are at high risk for falling and who already have a series of falls at the assisted living facility, are not transferred and continue to fall. We have seen falls that result in brain damage and death.

Therefore, the question as to whether or not your mother is safe in an assisted living facility is one that requires very careful attention. We recommend that you carefully review the facility’s supervision and health care abilities with the administrator and with your loved one’s physician before admission to an assisted living facility and at any time your loved one’s condition deteriorates.

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