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New Florida proposal champions elders' rights

Senior citizens unable to care for their own needs in the same way as other adults often consider nursing homes as a way to improve their standard of living. Elders in these facilities have several enumerated and implied rights to the best care possible.

Although these rights should be obvious to residents and caregivers in nursing homes and other residential care facilities, they are infringed upon all too often. More attention to hazards that affect seniors in these facilities is being paid after recent disasters contributed to the deaths of several nursing home residents.

A new proposal in the Florida State Legislature would reinforce the rights of nursing home patients by codifying levels of care and personal dignity expected in all facilities. This goes hand in hand with the governor's proposition to increase emergency preparedness among assisted care homes.

One of the proposed provisions in this new "bill of rights" would guarantee court access for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. This would also apply to the families of those who die under suspicious circumstances in nursing homes.

Specifically, the bill would guarantee the right of nursing home and assisted living residents "to be treated courteously, fairly and with the fullest measure of dignity." The text would also mandate "a safe clean, comfortable and homelike environment that protects residents from harm" and improves responses to natural disasters and other problems.

Although several nursing homes press patients to sign away their legal rights to sue facilities for substandard conditions and care, nursing home residents and their families are always permitted to consult a lawyer about the possibilities to stop abuse and claim damages for past abuses.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Nursing home bill of rights deserves support," Dec. 09, 2017

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