Gail Matillo: Legislature must pass assisted-living reform in 2015 session

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As the premier association representing professionally managed senior living communities that care for more than 28,000 Floridians, FLORIDA ALFA is deeply disappointed that the Legislature did not pass comprehensive reform of the assisted living facility industry in Florida.

The proposed legislation, championed by Sen. Eleanor Sobel in the Senate and Rep. Larry Ahern in the House, would have served to further protect Florida seniors and ensure they experience the best quality of life possible in their assisted-living communities.

Among the many positive elements of the ALF proposals was a measure that would have updated the definition of “limited nursing services.” That change would have allowed nurses licensed appropriately to deliver care to residents, rather than taking them out of their ALF home for care or delaying their return after a hospital stay.

In addition, the bill would have required any community caring for a resident with a limited mental health (LMH) disability to receive a special LMH license, ensuring better care for all residents of that community.  The bill also ensured special care for those with Alzheimer’s by requiring employees to undergo special training.

Unfortunately, this good policy became entangled in unrelated, and more controversial, legislation.  And although the ALF reform measure enjoyed widespread support in both chambers, it did not pass for this reason.

FL ALFA has supported reform legislation since our inception in 2012, and we are dedicated to continuing to work with all stakeholders and lawmakers to see that this good policy gets passed.  FL ALFA will come back for the 2015 legislative session with renewed energy and focus to advocate for meaningful ALF reform. We believe these reforms will ensure that seniors are well-protected and well-served in their assisted-living communities.

Please talk to your state lawmakers and encourage them to make meaningful ALF reform a top priority next session.  Together, we can ensure our state’s seniors — our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers — experience the best quality of life possible.

Gail Matillo is the Executive Director of FL ALFA. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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