Coalition for Silver Solutions Announced
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three of the state’s leading organizations focused on the long-term care of Florida’s large and growing elderly population joined forces with legislators today to announce a new coalition aimed at placing seniors at the top of the legislative priority list. AARP, the Florida Health Care Association, and LeadingAge Florida have formed the Coalition for Silver Solutions, committed to developing short- and long-term strategies to meet the health care needs of Florida’s aging population.
The organizations were joined at a Capitol press conference by Sen. Ben Albritton and Rep. Rick Roth, whose home Palm Beach and Polk counties have a combined 518,000 residents age 65 and older – more than the populations of every Florida city but Jacksonville. Seniors will constitute the majority of Florida’s predicted population growth between now and 2030, and this boom means Florida will encounter elder issues in a way the state has never seen before.
“One day soon, we will wake up to a Sunshine State that is grayer than almost anyplace on Earth has ever been – a place where one person in four is 65 or older and more than half of all babies will live to age 100,” said Jeff Johnson, state director of AARP Florida. “Our coalition is joining together to urge Florida’s leaders to prepare for this great blessing and new reality. We need a smart approach that makes the most efficient use of public resources, ensuring that we have a robust spectrum of care for older Floridians at every life stage.”
Members of the Coalition for Silver Solutions have committed to advocate this year for sufficient funding for both home-based and long-term care, seeking to retain $138 million in Medicaid funding authorized by the Legislature last year, while also working to formulate long-term strategies that will guide Florida as it deals with the unique and increasing challenges of the state’s large and growing population of seniors.
“The Legislature has an opportunity to make a smart decision for Florida’s future by funding nursing centers and home- and community-based services in this year’s budget,” said Marilyn Wood, president and CEO of Opis Senior Services Group, speaking on behalf of FHCA. “At the same time, we need long-term strategies to ensure that our seniors are supported across the full spectrum of care – whether that means they can remain at home with family or community support, or when their needs become too great, our nursing centers step in to help.”
Wood cited a recent FHCA report showing that Florida has jumped from 16th in the nation into the Top Ten in overall quality. To continue that progress, she said, the state must strongly support both home-based care and skilled nursing care for those who need it.
“We are facing a complex, multifaceted problem and any solution is going to require an equally complex set of responses,” said Steve Bahmer, President/CEO of LeadingAge Florida. “Seniors who need nursing home care tend to be older and sicker when they arrive at the nursing home than they have been in the past, and they have more complex needs. Without adequate funding, hiring and retaining the staff necessary to ensure high-quality care will continue to be a challenge. These issues are not insurmountable if the Legislature puts the money where the mandate is.”
Members of the Coalition for Silver Solutions will conduct their advocacy efforts throughout the ongoing legislative session, and will then bring leading strategists together to discuss long-term policy options. These efforts will culminate in a Silver Summit late this year, just ahead of the 2020 session. Read more about the Coalition for Silver Solutions here.
Quality Care in Florida Long Term Care Centers Very Good, Getting Better
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Boosted by support from the Legislature, Florida is showing significant improvement in the overall quality of care at long term care centers, now ranking among the top ten states in the nation. A new Quality Care Report issued today by the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) shows that Florida is consistently among the strongest performers in terms of both current quality measures and gains made over the last several years, based on federal data on a wide range of standard quality measurements.
Florida ranked 7th overall among states for 2018, a significant jump from its 16th-place standing in 2014. Florida was # 1 in the nation in setting requirements for staffing hours, and is first among the nation’s ten most populous states in overall nurse staffing rates. Both these measures translate directly into care and attention provided to residents of long term care centers.
“Florida’s long term care centers are extraordinarily dedicated to providing the best care possible for our residents, and the Legislature has been an outstanding partner by providing resources to make these improvements possible,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. “It’s clear that resources dedicated to quality care means money well spent, not just for those we serve but also for the professionals who devote their lives to our residents.”
The Quality Care Report compiles statewide and national data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). The report reflects major improvement for Florida in rankings overall and in specific areas, including staffing, depression prevention, and drug administration. Findings include:
- Florida ranks among the top ten states in several staffing-related measures, including minimum staffing hours set by the state (#1), total nurse staffing (#9), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) staffing (#8), and minimum CNA training and clinical hours (#7).
- Florida centers average a 3.8-star rating (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars), outpacing the national average of 3.4 stars.
- Florida has seen a reduction of 14.5% in the number of residents using antipsychotic medications, jumping 17 spots in its national ranking.
- For long-stay residents, Florida ranks among the top ten states in positive outcomes when measuring the portion of residents needing increased help with daily activities (#8); having the lowest portion of residents self-reporting moderate to severe pain (#5), experiencing depressive symptoms (#3) and experiencing one or more falls with major injury (#8), and the highest portion of residents receiving pneumococcal vaccine (#10).
- For short-stay residents, Florida ranks among the best five states in having the lowest portion of residents with new or worsened pressure ulcers (#3) and self-reporting moderate to severe pain (#5).
- Florida is consistently a top recipient of industry ratings and awards. The national leader in number of AHCA/NCAL Quality Awards, Florida continues to push for improvement with the number of awards increasing by 57 percents since 2014.
“We’re gratified to see this visible proof of outstanding quality of care provided by Florida’s long term care profession and the progress over the last several years,” Reed said. “Funding and quality improvements go hand in hand, and we appreciate the support of the Legislature for recognizing that in recent years. We ask for their continued support by extending the 2018 Medicaid funding increase – to advance the hard work, commitment, and compassion of the outstanding men and women who care for our residents on a daily basis.”
A copy of the FHCA Quality Care Report detailing these quality care figures is available at FHCA.org/qualitymatters.
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