Gail Matillo
Gail Matillo

A bill that supporters say will modernize regulations for assisted living communities in Florida is on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis after being passed unanimously by the state Senate and House.

HB 767 in part allows residents of assisted living and memory care communities to use assistive devices — such as wearables, transfer aids, shoe inserts, telehealth technologies and arthritis supports — to help keep them mobile and independent.

“Whenever we can modernize regulations to make communities safer, not only for residents but also for the healthcare workers, we’ve made excellent progress for our industry and our state,” Florida Senior Living Association President and CEO Gail Matillo said in a statement.

Many assisted living residents use assistive devices for years in their own homes but must give them up when entering assisted living communities, FSLA said. This can result in injury to the resident as well as caregivers who try to catch a falling resident or help a resident who has fallen and needs assistance to get up, according to the organization.

A more controversial part of the legislation scrapped a requirement that assisted living communities report to the state within one business day when they suspect that something staff did or did not do led to an adverse incident and resulted in, for example, death, injury or a hospital transfer. Assisted living communities instead will be required to begin an investigation within 24 hours of the potential adverse incident and then, as they do now, provide a report on the investigation to the state within 15 business days.

The change allows staff to focus on providing care to a resident immediately after a suspected event and also would reduce unwarranted citations that occur when staff file a one-day report, then determine that the event was not an adverse incident but forget to note that in the state system, FSLA representatives previously told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Under the process used before the bill’s passage, after an investigation, “if the ALF staff determines that this was not, in fact, an adverse incident, that one-day report is still hanging out there, and that triggers [wrongly to] the agency that there was an adverse incident and the 15-day report requirement was not met and will result in a citation for the ALF,” said Lee Ann Griffin, FSLA director of regulation and education.

The bill also removes the requirement that staff read the medication label in the presence of the resident when assisting with medication management, and it defines assistance with self-administration of medication as “in the presence of the resident, confirming that the medication is intended for that resident, orally advising the resident of the medication name and purpose, opening the container, removing a prescribed amount of medication from the container, and closing the container.”