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Assisted living facilities are licensed by the state and must follow state regulations set forth in the Florida Administrative Code. In general, residents of an assisted living facility should initially be able to perform their activities of daily living; however, there are specialized licenses including an ECC (Extended Congregate Care) and LNS (Limited Nursing Service) that allow these specially licensed facilities to offer a greater range of care.

Residents must meet regulations that are slightly more relaxed for continued stay at the facility. In order to fulfill the requirements of their licenses, assisted living facilities are required to provide a level of supervision for their residents. Specifically they are required to monitor the quantity and quality of the resident diets. They must provide observation of the resident’s daily activities while on the premises and awareness of the resident’s general health and well being. The facility has a duty to contact the resident’s family or health-care surrogate when there are significant changes exhibited by the resident.

The facility also has a duty to provide an ongoing activities program. Activities must be provided at least six days a week for a total of not less than 12 hours per week. Watching television cannot be considered an activity for the purpose of meeting the requirement unless the television program is a one-time event of special interest to the residents of the facility.

The facility shall provide residents with convenient access to a telephone to facilitate the resident’s right to unrestricted and private communication, pursuant to state regulations. The facility shall not prohibit unidentified telephone calls to residents. For facilities with a licensed capacity of 17 or more residents in which residents do not have private telephones, there shall be, at a minimum, an accessible telephone on each floor of each building where residents reside.

Facilities have a responsibility toward residents who are at risk for elopement. The facility must assess residents to determine whether they are an elopement risk or if there is a history thereof. The facility must make a daily effort to determine that at-risk residents have identification on their person that includes their name and the facility’s name, address and telephone number. Staff attention shall be directed towards residents assessed as high risk for elopement, with special attention given to those with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders assessed at high risk. As part of its resident elopement response policies and procedures, in addition to the aforementioned requirement, the facility must also have a photo identification system for at-risk residents. The facility must also develop written procedures for responding to resident elopement. These procedures must include:

1. An immediate staff search of the facility and premises;

2. The identification of staff responsible for implementing each part of the elopement response policies and procedures, including specific duties and responsibilities;

3. The identification of staff responsible for contacting law enforcement, the resident’s family, guardian, health-care surrogate and case manager if the resident is not located; and

4. The continued care of all residents within the facility in the event of an elopement.

It is important for facility residents and their families to know their rights so that their care can be optimized.