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Florida 'at a fork in the road' on nursing home staffing, state AARP director says

Jeff Johnson spoke to WMFE about nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and other issues that could affect seniors this legislative session.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated challenges facing nursing homes and assisted living facilities - particularly staffing shortages. 

Some of the bills before the Florida Legislature aim to address staffing, but the AARP state director Jeff Johnson wants to make sure quality of care is kept up, and if there’s more funding for nursing homes, it’s spent wisely. 

Johnson spoke to WMFE’s Joe Byrnes about this and other issues that could affect seniors this session. 

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

“Florida is in many respects at a fork in the road when it comes to our nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” says Johnson.

“There are bills that have been filed and discussions by some to say we need to lighten up on the quality staffing standards that were put in place 20 years ago because, frankly, the workforce challenges that our entire economy is facing are really hitting nursing homes and other long term care providers hard,” he says.

Johnson says AARP would rather see more emphasis on quality of care.

“We have discovered through COVID what we knew to some extent before, that many -  not all -  nursing homes in Florida have quality issues and have the need to really focus on how we provide better care and and keep residents safer, and there are opportunities for us to take that road while also trying to help people age in place at home.”

Johnson says nursing homes get a lot of funding from Medicare and Medicaid. If they were to get more funding, he says there needs to be more transparency.

“It’s critically important that as taxpayers, not only as family members of those who who may be residents of those facilities, but as taxpayers who are providing this money through our tax dollars, that we have transparency and accountability about how any additional money for staffing gets spent.”

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Matthew Peddie