The readers’ forum

Florida’s seniors need meaningful ALF reform


As the state’s premier association representing professionally-managed senior living communities who care for more than 28,000 seniors across the state, Florida ALFA is deeply disappointed that the Florida Legislature did not pass a measure this session that would have meaningfully and comprehensively reformed the ALF industry in Florida.

Proposed ALF reform legislation, championed by Sen. Eleanor Sobel in the Senate and Rep. Larry Ahern in the House, would have served to further protect Florida seniors and ensure they experience the best quality of life possible in their assisted living communities.

Among the many positive elements of the ALF reform proposals was a measure that would have updated the definition of limited nursing services, meaning those nurses licensed appropriately under this proposal would have been able to deliver care to residents, rather than unnecessarily taking them out of their ALF home for care or delaying their return after a hospital stay. In addition, the bill, had it been successful, would have required any community caring for a resident with a limited mental health (LMH) disability to receive a special LMH license, ultimately ensuring better care for all residents of that community. The bill also ensured special care for those with Alzheimer’s by requiring employees to undergo special training.

Unfortunately, toward the close of the session this good public policy became entangled in unrelated, and more controversial, legislation. And although the ALF reform measure enjoyed widespread support in both chambers, it did not ultimately pass for this reason.

Florida ALFA has supported reform legislation since our inception in 2012 and we are dedicated to continuing to work with all stakeholders and lawmakers to see this good public policy come to fruition. I commit to all Floridians today that FL ALFA will come back for the 2015 legislative session with renewed energy and focus to advocate for meaningful ALF reform, as we truly believe this good public policy is instrumental in ensuring seniors are well-protected and well-served in their assisted living communities.

Please join me in being a voice for those in senior living communities, as well as their families and loved ones, and talk to your state lawmakers and encourage them to make meaningful ALF reform a top priority next session. Together, we can ensure our state’s seniors — our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers — experience the best quality of life possible.

Gail Matillo, executive director, Florida Assisted Living Federation of America, Tallahassee

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