In the case of an elderly relative living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, families just want to know that the staff will provide the best possible care. Usually these moves are made when an elderly relative’s medical needs become so great, the family cannot care for them on their own, or when there is no family in the nearby area that can take in the senior citizen. This scenario is very plausible for seniors who live in Florida, where they may have retired to a popular spot, far away from their family homes in other states.
Cases of elder abuse and neglect are investigated when accusations are made that a nursing facility has been causing the elderly patient to be put in harm’s way. In Orlando, and many of the cities surrounding, cases of elder abuse are often taken to court by a lawyer specializing in the laws regarding the care of senior citizens.
Elder abuse signs can be difficult to spot, especially if a senior citizen is often ill. What appears to be sickness causing them to lose weight could be neglect on the part of the caregiver, causing the elder to become malnourished, for example.
In Orlando, it is mandatory for any concerned citizen to report suspicions of elder abuse. The signs to watch for generally include suspicious bruises or broken bones, malnutrition, dehydration, a sudden onset of confused or depressed behavior, or a lack of personal hygiene. Financial abuse is another concern, and may manifest as a sudden lack of funds or a sudden sale of personal property.
Anyone who suspects that an elderly resident of Orlando is being abused in a nursing care facility or at home, who does not report it to the proper authorities, could be liable according to the law, and may face criminal neglect charges.
Certain cases in Florida have settled for over two million dollars due to the extreme abuse and wrongful death claims brought against nursing care facilities. These cases were usually class action lawsuits, meaning they involved more than one family accusing the nursing facility of abuse of a relative.
Florida typically caps damages between 750,000 and 1.5 million dollars against a hospital or hospice provider, although a judge can determine that a facility is responsible for more, even in a nonemergency situation. In recent years, Florida passed a law that prevents silent investors from being held liable for any settlement payments, and made it easier for lawyers to prove who precisely owns a specific facility.
As Florida’s elderly population grows, the understaffing and underfunding issues that plague nursing facilities become more serious. Without enough staff to care for the residents, cases of neglect become much more prevalent.
The Center for Disease Control reports that the average nursing home staff ratio across the nation is 1 staff member to 1.64 residents; however, the number in Orlando is usually closer to the required 1 to 20 ratio. In fact, the laws in Florida only state that a patient is required to receive 2.9 hours of direct care a day from CNAs, and only a single hour a day from a licensed nurse.
The new laws in place that prevent private backers from being pursued in court help nursing facilities receive more funding to alleviate the burden and result in better care. In Orlando, the Adult Protective Services, the Attorney General’s office, and the many lawyers who specialize in elder abuse are there to help elderly patients and their family members protect their rights.