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Moves to Address Florida’s Nursing Home Shortage Are Unlikely to Go Far Enough

Florida has a shortage of nursing home beds.  That is bad news for anyone who is in need of placing an elderly relative into the care of a nursing home. While Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration recently approved the addition of almost one thousand new beds, the state’s demand is outpacing supply at an alarming rate.  The result can lead to limited options for a family in need of nursing home care.

The number of nursing home beds in the state is strictly regulated and some nursing homes benefit tremendously by this.  Basic economics tells us that an artificial limit on supply is not good for consumers.  By keeping the number of beds low, homes providing inferior care still have plenty of residents – those residents often have no other options.

Earlier this year, the Agency for Health Care Administration estimated it needed 3,115 additional nursing home beds to serve Florida’s aging and disabled population, yet less than one thousand additional beds have been approved. Thankfully, most of the new approvals are in North and Central Florida. Before this month’s announcement, it had been more than a decade since the state issued certificates for new nursing home beds.

The 3,115 new nursing home beds to be added in the next few years in Florida will not be enough, according to Tony Marshall, an administrator with the Florida Health Care Association, an organization of the nursing home industry. He said Florida will need as many as 20,000 new beds in the next 20 years.

In situations like this, families can end up making unfortunate choices and putting their loved ones in facilities with poor records that can lead to them becoming the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

According to statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse, 36 percent of the country’s nursing homes have violated elder abuse laws. These problems are particularly concerning in Florida, with its large population of retirees and senior citizens.  Several years ago, an investigation in the Miami Herald highlighted the widespread nature of abuse in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities and uncovered a multitude of questionable deaths.

The Jacksonville metropolitan area has fifty-four nursing homes. In recent rankings issued by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, many of the Jacksonville area nursing homes received a low score in important areas, such as quality of care, quality of life, effectiveness of administration, providing appropriate food and drink, and treating their residents with respect and dignity. Alarmingly, as many as one-third of the nursing homes in the city of Jacksonville received a one-star inspection rating – the lowest rating possible.  Of course, low scores are a key indicator of the potential for neglect, injury and abuse in a nursing home.

If you or a family member has been mistreated, neglected, abused or injured at a nursing home or an assisted living facility, a Jacksonville nursing home neglect attorney can help you.  We are also happy to consult with you when you are in the process of making the decision about which nursing home to use.  Call us for a free consultation at (904) 632-0077.

Written by David Macauley