Articles Posted in Nursing Home/ALF Neglect


Florida lawmakers approved a plan just weeks ago that would bring about a change in staffing standards for nursing homes.

The Senate voted 28-9 to pass the bill (HB 1239), which was approved by the House in an 80-31 vote.

The staffing issues centered on changes for certified nursing assistants, who are the ones providing much of the care to residents in nursing homes.


Making the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home is a huge decision, and one that many Citrus County residents face every year. It can be a daunting task to select the best place to move your loved one to and make sure that they get the best possible medical care.

If you are facing this tough choice currently, then our Citrus County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend that you do your homework on these facilities as the care provided can vary greatly from one facility to another.

Medicare has a ranking system for all nursing homes, hospitals, and other providers for the entire country. Their ranking system is based on staffing, quality measures, and health inspections and based on these findings, a facility is given between one and five stars – one being the lowest and five being the highest. If you are interested in seeing where a facility you are interested in falls on the Medicare rankings, you can view them by visiting the Medicare site here.

Another factor that may sway your decision is whether or not your insurance is taken at the facility. Most nursing homes accept a wide range of health insurance plans, but some only accept certain types. When you are shopping around for the right nursing home, you can ask about what insurance plans they accept as well as other payment options.

wrist-watch-ga9fedbe05_1920-300x125Perhaps the most important thing to do when selecting the right nursing home for a loved one is to visit them in person. Go visit these facilities and take tours. Have a list of questions ready for staff members and take your own notes when visiting. You will want to see what options of activities are available for residents, room designs, the level of care and attention the staff provides to residents, housing preferences, and the facility’s relationships with doctors and hospitals. You can make a scheduled tour through the nursing home and we also recommend popping in unexpectedly to experience the home as it is on a typical day where you are not expected.

If you are placing a loved one in a nursing home in the immediate future, then we strongly recommend that you visit your loved one often and irregularly so that your arrival is not anticipated. There are many studies out there that suggest that the best care is given to residents in nursing homes that have frequent visitors. Likewise, regular appearances will allow you to quickly spot any red flags of possible nursing home neglect or abuse. Continue reading


When an elderly person is being abused, sometimes it can be tricky to spot any disturbing signs. Whether they are in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or staying in their home or the home of a loved one being cared for by a spouse, child, or an in-home nurse, there are usually certain indications that can point to abuse, neglect or exploitation by the caretaker. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has research that shows that 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse, which adds up to about 5 million senior citizens every single year. In most cases of abuse, 60% of abusers are family members of the elderly person. Even worse, only 1 in 14 cases are reported to authorities. 

How Can I Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse? 

You may notice physical changes and even behavioral changes if someone you know is being abused by a family member or nursing home or assisted living facility staff members. As we mentioned above, not all signs of abuse are easy to spot, but some signs are big red flags, including:  

  • Bruising: if you notice any bruises in odd places or any bruises that cannot be explained then it is best to report your suspicions. 
  • Falls or cuts that cannot be explained
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Dehydration
  • Depression 
  • Pale complexion
  • Malnutrition
  • Bed sores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Personal items, money, credit cards, or checkbooks that are missing 
  • Unattended patients 
  • A patient living in dirty conditions
  • Bugs or rodents present in the the living quarters
  • Lack of proper AC or heating systems

knitting-1809160_1920-300x200How Do I Report My Suspicions of Elderly Abuse? 

The state of Florida takes a strong stance on stopping elderly abuse, which is why it is mandatory to report any suspicions to the proper authorities. If the elderly person you believe is being abused is in immediate danger, then you need to call 911 right away. This ensures that the person will be removed from the dangerous situation and will be safe. 

If you have witnessed anything that you think could be an indication of elderly abuse or neglect, then you need to report your findings to the Florida Abuse Hotline by calling their 24 hour phone line at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). Be prepared to press 2 to report your suspicions of elderly abuse and/or neglect. You can also make an online report here. You can fax in a report at 1-800-914-0004 and the TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is 1-800-453-5145. When making your report, you should include your name and contact information so that you can be connected with any follow up questions. Of course if you wish to remain anonymous you can still file a report that will be investigated. 

If any abuse and/or neglect is happening at a nursing home or assisted living facility, then all complaints will be handled by a state Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman. Lori Berndt is the District Ombudsman Manager for Citrus County. Her contact information is: 

Lori Berndt, North Central District Ombudsman Manager

1515 E Silver Springs Blvd. #203

Ocala, FL  34470

Telephone: (352) 620-3088

Fax: (352) 732-1797

How Can Whittel & Melton Help with Elderly Abuse Claims? 

Nursing homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and family members who are caretakers of the elderly are required to meet the needs of the elderly patient and make sure that they are taken care of properly. There are far too many elderly victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the U.S. every single year. If you suspect that your loved one’s health is at risk, you should never delay in seeking help  to put a stop to their suffering. Our Citrus County Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the laws that protect your loved one and what can be done to recover justice for any pain and suffering they have endured.  Continue reading


While it is great news to hear that a full 100 percent of Citrus County’s nine nursing homes are in compliance with the state’s emergency power mandate that went into effect June 1, of the county’s 24 assisted living facility (ALF) providers, just 14 have complied, according to the latest data from the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

These new emergency guidelines mean that if another hurricane rolls through cutting power to those facilities, they will have enough back-up power — such as an on-site generator — to provide staff and residents 96 hours worth of air conditioning.

For the entire state of Florida, AHCA data shows 100 percent compliance among all 684 statewide nursing homes. And 1,722 out of the state’s 3,097 ALFs have met the mandate’s requirements, for a 55.60 percent compliance rate.

Gov. Rick Scott proposed the emergency power plan rule following the deaths last year of a dozen elderly people in a Hollywood Hills nursing home during and in the weeks following Hurricane Irma. The Florida Legislature passed rules mandating that those facilities verify they have installed a working generator or alternate backup power source by June 1, the start of hurricane season.

Florida is one of the first states in the nation to require emergency generators at all nursing homes and ALFs.

Facilities that fail to comply are subject to fines or sanctions of up to $1,000 a day and revocation of their license to operate in Florida.

As of June 15, 524 nursing homes and 1,027 ALFS filed extensions to complete these requirements.

Under the rules, extensions can be granted for reasons including construction or delays in delivery, zoning, or regulatory approvals, provided the facility submits alternative cooling plans that can keep residents at safe temperatures for 96 hours. Obtaining an extension means that the facilities are still in compliance with the law, despite not having the backup power fully in place or not inspected.

Facilities that have filed extensions must have plans that include:

  • Bringing a temporary generator onsite during power outages
  • Contracting for priority fuel replenishment during a power outage
  • Moving residents to common areas that can be cooled with an existing generator
  • Evacuation if needed

AHCA said it will cost Florida nursing homes more than $186 million to comply with the generator requirement. The agency based its estimates on information provided from the nursing home industry, which said the costs for a generator at a 120-bed facility would be $315,200. Using those figures, AHCA estimated the average cost per bed at $2,626.66.

The 2018 hurricane season has begun and continues until November 30. The peak season occurs between mid-August and late October.

As we know all too well in Florida, hurricanes are powerful systems with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. When hurricanes or tropical storms make landfall, they bring heavy winds and rain as well as massive flooding. Lack of preparation is extremely dangerous for those who live in a hurricane’s path, so it is good thing that the AHCA is strongly enforcing these new requirements for nursing homes and ALFs.

Losing electricity in a storm with the size and strength of a hurricane like Hurricane Irma that swept through in 2017 can be common. However, facilities should have back-up systems and plans so their residents are safe. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or died as the result of a nursing home’s or an ALF’s negligence before or after a hurricane, you may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

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