In a 2011 series of articles, the Miami Herald reported physical abuse and neglect within the assisted living (AL) sector, often triggered by age disparity among residents. Currently there is no distinction among the populations (elderly, mentally challenged, Alzheimer’s) that may comprise an AL community. These security issues have prompted the Florida chapter of the Assisted Living Federation (FLALFA) to seek a clarification of the term “assisted living” from the Florida legislature that offers more transparency to the consumer.
One step to achieving transparency is through advertising and marketing. AL communities need to let the consumer know exactly what services they offer and to what demographics, so consumers can make informed decisions. Activities, therapies and medications for the elderly differ from those for residents with mental illness.
At present, Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs only provides a list of communities in the state under the “assisted living” umbrella. It is up to the consumer to research the list to find a facility that meets their needs. In a release, Paul Williams, senior director of government relations at the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), stated: “People want to know they are receiving the right care for themselves or for their family members.” Enabling consumers to find the best fit in an AL’s offerings is the goal in making distinctions among the various facilities.
Florida’s legislative session is scheduled to begin in March. Williams explains that the association is laying the groundwork to educate regulators and legislators on its concerns for transparency.