19. Consumer Advocate Services Consumer Advocate Services focus on providing protection and oversight for the most vulnerable elders – those who are in nursing homes, or those who are incapacitated and require guardianship services but have no private guardian. Statewide Public Guardianship Office The Statewide Public Guardianship Office, in addition to overseeing the public guardians, is also responsible for the education and registration of Florida’s professional guardians. Currently, 16 appointed public guardians serve the state, providing guardianship services to persons who do not have adequate income or assets to afford a private guardian.
20. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) is a volunteer-based organization through which more than 300 ombudsmen investigate and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, the state’s long-term care residents. They also annually assess all licensed facilities to ensure residents’ health, safety and welfare, and defend the rights of those most vulnerable. SHINE Program The Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders program is federally funded, with approximately 430 volunteers throughout the state providing health insurance information to Florida’s 3.2 million Medicare beneficiaries. In FY 93-34, SHINE volunteers served 8,270 clients; in FY 05-06, SHINE volunteers served more than 100,000 clients. Consumer Advocate Services
21. Elder Abuse Prevention The Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Prevention Program provides public education and outreach to identify, prevent and treat elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. From collaborating with other agencies, the department has developed numerous consumer awareness guides and training curricula. Senior Legal Helpline In December 2005, Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., of Tampa, in partnership with the department, developed a toll-free, statewide helpline to increase access to legal advice and referrals for underserved Florida seniors (1-888-895-7873). Consumer Advocate Services