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New rules protect Florida nursing home residents

Caring for seniors can be a complicated and difficult process. Many adult children and families rely on nursing homes to provide predictable and professional care for elders once they are less able to take care of themselves.

It is rare but possible that nursing home residents will experience abuse or neglect during their stays in these facilities. This is of high concern in Florida, where the senior population is high and often living in one of the state's many nursing homes.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is hard to identify and quantify, since it often happens in private and over long periods of time during care. But a recent look at the limits of nursing homes' abilities to care for their residents may change the entire industry.

In the wake of a hurricane that knocked out power to much of the state, Florida's governor announced new rules requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have backup electricity for four days after a power grid failure. This is after eight residents died in a Hollywood nursing home after the air conditioning lost power.

Nursing homes now have two months to gather what the governor calls "ample resources" to "sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures," which require a generator and fuel. The state fire marshal must inspect installations within two weeks.

Most systems failures in nursing homes constitute negligence, which may require nursing homes and their managers to answer to law enforcement even if harm does not come to residents. Legal representation is helpful for elders and their families who are exploring options to stop nursing home abuse or neglect.

Source: The New York Times, "Nursing Home Deaths Prompt New Rules by Florida Governor," Sheri Fink and Matt Stevens, Sep. 16, 2017

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