400.0069 Local long-term care ombudsman councils; duties; membership.—
(1)(a) The ombudsman shall designate local long-term care ombudsman councils to carry out the duties of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program within local communities. Each local council shall function under the direction of the ombudsman.
(b) The ombudsman shall ensure that there is at least one local council operating in each of the department’s planning and service areas. The ombudsman may create additional local councils as necessary to ensure that residents throughout the state have adequate access to State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program services. The ombudsman, after approval from the secretary, shall designate the jurisdictional boundaries of each local council.
(2) The duties of the local councils are to:
(a) Serve as a third-party mechanism for protecting the health, safety, welfare, and civil and human rights of residents.
(b) Discover, investigate, and determine the existence of abuse or neglect in any long-term care facility and to use the procedures provided for in ss. 415.101-415.113 when applicable.
(c) Elicit, receive, investigate, respond to, and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents.
(d) Review and, if necessary, comment on all existing or proposed rules, regulations, and other governmental policies and actions relating to long-term care facilities that may potentially have an effect on the rights, health, safety, and welfare of residents.
(e) Review personal property and money accounts of residents who are receiving assistance under the Medicaid program pursuant to an investigation to obtain information regarding a specific complaint or problem.
(f) Recommend that the ombudsman and the legal advocate seek administrative, legal, and other remedies to protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of the residents.
(g) Carry out other activities that the ombudsman determines to be appropriate.
(3) In order to carry out the duties specified in subsection (2), a member of a local council is authorized to enter any long-term care facility without notice or first obtaining a warrant, subject to the provisions of s. 400.0074(2).
(4) Each local council shall be composed of members whose primary residence is located within the boundaries of the local council’s jurisdiction.
(a) The ombudsman shall strive to ensure that each local council include the following persons as members:
1. At least one medical or osteopathic physician whose practice includes or has included a substantial number of geriatric patients and who may practice in a long-term care facility;
2. At least one registered nurse who has geriatric experience;
3. At least one licensed pharmacist;
4. At least one registered dietitian;
5. At least six nursing home residents or representative consumer advocates for nursing home residents;
6. At least three residents of assisted living facilities or adult family-care homes or three representative consumer advocates for alternative long-term care facility residents;
7. At least one attorney; and
8. At least one professional social worker.
(b) In no case shall the medical director of a long-term care facility or an employee of the agency, the department, the Department of Children and Family Services, or the Agency for Persons with Disabilities serve as a member or as an ex officio member of a council.
(5)(a) Individuals wishing to join a local council shall submit an application to the ombudsman. The ombudsman shall review the individual’s application and advise the secretary of his or her recommendation for approval or disapproval of the candidate’s membership on the local council. If the secretary approves of the individual’s membership, the individual shall be appointed as a member of the local council.
(b) The secretary may rescind the ombudsman’s approval of a member on a local council at any time. If the secretary rescinds the approval of a member on a local council, the ombudsman shall ensure that the individual is immediately removed from the local council on which he or she serves and the individual may no longer represent the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program until the secretary provides his or her approval.
(c) A local council may recommend the removal of one or more of its members by submitting to the ombudsman a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the members of the council stating the name of the member or members recommended for removal and the reasons for the recommendation. If such a recommendation is adopted by a local council, the local council chair or district coordinator shall immediately report the council’s recommendation to the ombudsman. The ombudsman shall review the recommendation of the local council and advise the secretary of his or her recommendation regarding removal of the council member or members.
(6)(a) Each local council shall elect a chair for a term of 1 year. There shall be no limitation on the number of terms that an approved member of a local council may serve as chair.
(b) The chair shall select a vice chair from among the members of the council. The vice chair shall preside over the council in the absence of the chair.
(c) The chair may create additional executive positions as necessary to carry out the duties of the local council. Any person appointed to an executive position shall serve at the pleasure of the chair, and his or her term shall expire on the same day as the term of the chair.
(d) A chair may be immediately removed from office prior to the expiration of his or her term by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the local council. If any chair is removed from office prior to the expiration of his or her term, a replacement chair shall be elected during the same meeting, and the term of the replacement chair shall begin immediately. The replacement chair shall serve for the remainder of the term of the person he or she replaced.
(7) Each local council shall meet upon the call of its chair or upon the call of the ombudsman. Each local council shall meet at least once a month but may meet more frequently if necessary.
(8) A member of a local council shall receive no compensation but shall, with approval from the ombudsman, be reimbursed for travel expenses both within and outside the jurisdiction of the local council in accordance with the provisions of s. 112.061.
(9) The local councils are authorized to call upon appropriate agencies of state government for such professional assistance as may be needed in the discharge of their duties. All state agencies shall cooperate with the local councils in providing requested information and agency representation at council meetings.
History.—s. 27, ch. 75-233; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 136, ch. 77-104; s. 8, ch. 77-401; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 4, ch. 78-323; s. 2, ch. 78-393; ss. 6, 12, ch. 80-198; ss. 2, 3, 5, ch. 81-184; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; ss. 15, 19, ch. 82-148; ss. 35, 79, 80, 83, 84, ch. 83-181; s. 39, ch. 86-220; s. 2, ch. 87-396; s. 7, ch. 89-294; s. 3, ch. 91-115; s. 27, ch. 92-33; ss. 6, 29, 30, 31, ch. 93-177; s. 49, ch. 93-217; s. 760, ch. 95-148; s. 5, ch. 95-210; s. 114, ch. 99-8; s. 125, ch. 2000-349; s. 45, ch. 2000-367; s. 23, ch. 2002-223; s. 7, ch. 2006-121; s. 21, ch. 2006-197.