A new statement from Florida State Director Jeff Johnson reflects AARP’s concern about who is caring for seniors in long term care situations. The statement was prompted by the second turnover in the Florida Long Term Care Ombudsman’s position since 2011. The statement reads:

“Florida families need to have confidence that their loved ones are safe and well cared for, but that confidence has been shaken by the ouster this week of one of the key figures in long-term care oversight, the state’s long-term care ombudsman. This comes only months after the state Legislature failed again to reports of deaths and poor treatment in the state's assisted living industry. The importance of effective oversight is even more critical because, starting today, tens of thousands of frail elders will be required to join managed-care organizations to receive long-term care under Medicaid. More than ever before, vulnerable Floridians need trusted, independent voices watching out for their care and safety. The turmoil is worsening, and the gaps are growing, in Florida's system of safeguards for our most vulnerable elders. It's up to Gov. Scott's administration and the Legislature to take prompt action to restore the confidence of Florida families that the state can ensure their older loved ones are safe. AARP Florida stands ready to assist in any way in this effort.”

There have been reports and stories about elderly abuse and misconduct in long term care facilities over the past few years, prompting many throughout the country to create commissions and groups that examine the problems going on in these facilities. In some regard, the percentage of these cases have lessened greatly over the years, though many families still have concerns that their loved one is at risk when they are in these situations.

Some have argued that there are ways to prevent seniors from experiencing mistreatment and death based on abuse in long term care facilities. Seniors who are visited often by family and friends tend to get better care because the staff at the facilities see that there are people involved who care about the seniors and are actively watching to ensure that nothing inappropriate occurs. In situations where family members don’t visit and don’t maintain much contact with their loved ones who are in these care facilities, there’s a higher chance that someone in the staff may abuse the resident because there is no one around to protect them and ensure that proper care is being administered.

However, there have been cases where abuse or poor care has occurred and the facility itself has caught on to these issues. Most staff and facilities are dedicated to providing reliable care to the residents there. Experts suggest that the best way to ensure that your loved one is cared for properly in these circumstances is to focus on visiting the location yourself on a regular basis and taking an active role in the care for your parent or loved one.