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Volunteers needed to help review allegations of St. Lucie nursing home neglect and abuse

Volunteers are needed for Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program, which advocates for the care of Florida nursing home residents, TCPalm reported.

Our St. Lucie nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers urge those with time to consider volunteering for this important program. The program operates under the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Two or three paid staffers and about 400 volunteers work out of 17 offices throughout the state, where they monitor long-term care facilities.

“Ombudsmen are first and foremost advocates,” said Elizabeth Davis, the program spokeswoman. “We focus on residents, their needs, desires and concerns, and if a resident needs someone to speak on his or her behalf, we’ll be there to do that. We want to help facilities improve the quality of care they offer.”

Volunteers check on the quality of care residents receive, which includes the cleanliness of rooms and facilities, the quality of food, and the responsiveness of staff to the needs of residents. In facilities that have been the subject of complaints, Ombudsmen get 24-hour access and can arrive unannounced to investigate. Volunteers also work to help avoid issues like bed sores, falls and neglect.

The Fort Pierce office has 19 members, who meet monthly to go over complaints and discuss investigations.

We believe it is incumbent upon all of us to monitor the nursing home system and protect older residents from neglect or abuse. Nationwide, nearly 16,000 nursing homes care for 1.7 million elderly residents. In Florida, 676 nursing homes serve more than 71,000 residents, according to the American Health Care Association.

Nationwide, more than half of all nursing homes are part of a large chain corporation and two-thirds are operated as for-profit companies.

The Florida Ombudsman program offers a number of resources:

Read Florida Nursing Home Resident Rights.

-File an abuse of neglect complaint involving a Florida nursing home.

Contact elder care advocacy groups.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to representing clients dealing with nursing home neglect and abuse in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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