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Recently a client asked me the question: Does an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) in Florida have to provide activities?  This client said that, due to low participation by residents, their facility had given up and was not going to hire a replacement activities director.  You should be aware that Florida has standards governing assisted living facilities.  If you review the brochures of most ALFs you will see happy, engaged seniors in a variety of activities around the facility.  When you tour an ALF you will be shown or given an activities calendar which looks to be filled with options to stay active while living there.  But what if reality falls short of the representations?

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ALFs are a regulated industry in Florida.  Chapter 400 of the Florida Statutes governs the requirements for the industry.  All ALFs are licensed by the state and must meet the minimum standards as set out in the regulations.  Further regulations are codified in Chapter 59 of the Florida Administrative Code.  An ALF in Florida must provide activities at least 6 days a week, totaling at least 12 hours per week.  Watching TV does not count as an activity, with a very limited exception for a one-time event of special interest to residents of the facility.  The code encourages the facility to work with residents to decide what sorts of activities and as to scheduling.

Many facilities will have a resident’s council.  These residents volunteer their time to meet and address issues of concern to residents.  They may approach management with complaints or suggestions with regard to food quality or variety, activities, maintenance and upkeep of the facility, or problems with the call system (wait times).  You might want to consider being involved in your residents council to have input in this area.

If management will not make the changes, or if delays are too long, there are also remedies in Florida to redress such a problem.  The state of Florida has an Ombudsman Program.  Contact information for the Ombudsman’s office must be posted in each ALF in the state in a common area of the ALF accessible to all residents.  The Resident’s Bill of Rights must also be posted, and a copy given upon move in.  Also required to be posted (although outside the scope of this blog) are the reporting toll-free numbers for abuse or fraud.

If you are in an ALF, or have a loved one who is, don’t assume that you have to accept the way things are right now.  There are procedures for making changes.  As always, things will not change unless management is aware of the concerns.  They cannot be expected to know of concerns which are not brought to their attention.  If they know that several residents have the same concern, they will be likely to try to find a solution.  ALFs like to have high occupancy, and will try to keep residents happy if it is within their power and budget to do so.

If you have a concern that you do not feel has been addressed, consider approaching a Florida elder law attorney.  Burzynski Elder Law can help you seek redress, and understand your rights.  Call for a telephone consultation at 239-434-8557.