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New proposed law would strengthen nursing home residents

Florida's population is getting younger every year, but that has not changed the number of senior citizens living there for the comfort of the climate and lifestyle. Experts believe that the Sunshine State's population of elderly people, already the highest in the nation, will only increase in the coming years.

The last year has been a milestone for senior rights, especially the residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The state government in Tallahassee finalized a proposal to increase safety standards for climate control after a power failure led to several deaths in a nursing home.

A new bill, Proposal 88, would clarify civil and legal rights for senior citizens, especially when moving into nursing homes. Some facilities require new residents and their families to sign away certain rights, such as requesting a jury trial in the event of a lawsuit for elder abuse or neglect. Proposal 88 would discredit this illegal practice.

The Florida Bar reports that a glut of nursing homes in the state has been accompanied by a rise in routine violations of residents' rights by nursing home staff and administrators. The report also claims at least one in five residents are "subject to abuse, neglect and exploitation."

Victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, or in their own homes with professional home health staff, always have the right to pursue financial damages for past and present treatment. This may include negotiated settlements or trials by jury in civil court. An attorney may be an invaluable ally to victims and their families in assembling and forwarding a winning case.

Source: The News Press, "Patients' 'rights' real threat to nursing home empires," Brian Lee, March 20, 2018

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