Written By: Pascal Bergeron
Conflicts among roommates aren’t restricted to college dorms or shared apartments in big cities. In assisted living facilities, residents often share rooms, and like any other shared living situation, disagreements can arise. However, given the unique circumstances and the age group involved, these disputes often require a different approach.
Understanding the Nature of Conflicts in Assisted Living Facilities First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that many factors can contribute to conflicts in these settings:
- Health Conditions: Issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments can influence behavior.
- Personal Background: Everyone comes from different life experiences and backgrounds. They may have lived independently for decades before moving into shared accommodations.
- Loss: Many residents are dealing with grief and loss—whether it’s the loss of a spouse, their independence, or their home. Such emotions can manifest as irritability or anger.
Steps to Address Conflicts Between Roommates
- Open Communication: Initially, encourage residents to talk about their feelings and concerns. Often, a simple conversation can resolve misunderstandings.
- Mediation: If a direct conversation doesn’t resolve the issue, consider arranging a mediated discussion with a neutral third party.
- Reevaluation of Room Assignments: Sometimes, certain personalities simply don’t mesh well. It might be more beneficial for all parties to consider changing room arrangements.
- Professional Counseling: If conflicts are rooted in deeper emotional or mental health issues, bringing in a counselor or therapist may be helpful.
Most Cited Deficiency: Residents’ Rights under Florida Statute 429.28
When it comes to resident altercations in Florida’s assisted living facilities, the most cited deficiency revolves around the violation of Residents’ Rights. Under Florida Statute 429.28, every resident has the right to a safe and decent living environment, free from abuse and neglect. This statute makes it clear that facilities have a profound obligation to ensure residents’ safety and mental well-being. If one resident becomes an aggressor, it’s the facility’s responsibility to address the situation promptly and ensure the victim’s protection.
Steps to Address Physical Altercations
- Immediate Intervention: Ensure the safety of all parties involved by intervening immediately. Separate the involved residents and ensure medical attention if needed.
- Documentation: Document every detail of the altercation. Include witnesses, the nature of the altercation, any injuries, and the immediate actions taken.
- Investigation: Conduct a thorough investigation to understand the cause of the altercation and any underlying issues that may have contributed.
- Adverse Incident Reporting: If injuries were sustained or law enforcement was involved in the altercation, an adverse incident report must be filed with AHCA, in accordance with regulations. This reporting is not just a requirement but is crucial to maintaining compliance and demonstrating the facility’s commitment to addressing serious conflicts responsibly.
- Review and Training: Reevaluate your facility’s policies and procedures. Ensure that staff members are trained to prevent, recognize, and address conflicts. Training should emphasize de-escalation techniques and communication skills.
- Reevaluation of Resident Placement and Psychiatric Evaluation: In the aftermath of an altercation, it’s essential to assess the placement of the involved residents. Consider whether they should be separated or if changes in room assignments are necessary. Additionally, I have witnessed AHCA cite facilities for neglecting to conduct a psychiatric evaluation to ascertain if a resident poses a potential future threat of violence. Ensuring such evaluations are done post-incident can be pivotal in preventing future altercations and ensuring the safety of all residents.
Assisted living facilities have a profound responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. In light of the Residents’ Rights under Florida Statute 429.28, facilities must be proactive in addressing conflicts, especially when they escalate to physical altercations. By understanding the regulations, training staff adequately, and having clear procedures in place, facilities can foster a safe and harmonious environment for all residents.