The Voice for ALFs in Florida
by Pat Lange
The Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA) is a strong, unified, professional organization representing the owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs). ALFs give residents the freedom to live as they choose, but offer extra support and care when needed. ALFs provide loving, safe, happy homes for those who cannot entirely care for themselves and need assistance with activities of daily living. ALFs allow residents to feel protected and secure, provide wholesome food, offer transportation to shopping and appointments, monitor medical needs and facilitate social interaction. FALA is the voice of ALFs in Florida, serving as an advocate to protecting their members’ mission, oversee collective initiatives and promote their interests and goals.
Our membership is comprised of facilities ranging in size from those who care for a few individuals to those that care for hundreds. We represent more than 600 assisted living facilities and adult family care homes and more than 175 associate members who provide products and services to ALFs. Members of FALA’s board of directors are active in their local communities in many ways, as well as representing the industry with effective grassroots legislative advocacy.
FALA is celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2013, and we have always been very hands-on when it comes to our members. They look to us for information and guidance about how to run their AFLs in the best possible way. Although we have a small staff, we go above and beyond to be there for our members. We also have an annual conference that gives our members an opportunity each year to gather for networking, professional development, idea-sharing and fellowship. We have a partnership with our members, and we are collectively committed to promoting excellence in the ALF industry.
FALA encourages our member ALFs to perform to the “greenest” of their ability. Many facilities have efficient recycling programs in place so residents can dispose of glass, paper, plastic and aluminum while reducing the amount of waste being transferred to area landfills. It not only helps the environment, but it allows residents to know they have made a difference. Reducing energy costs is another beneficial component in becoming eco-friendly. Converting incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs and replacing old appliances can drastically reduce energy costs from month to month and is just another way our members are “going green.” We are proud that our members are looking to the future and want to operate their facilities in a way that is environmentally responsible.
FALA has a website, Facebook page, electronic newsletter and email-based messaging system. We strive to have open and frequent communication with our members. Social media has opened up a communication avenue that our members have enjoyed. We not only post timely and interesting information, but we can also share members’ accomplishments so other members can give feedback and congratulate them. We also enjoy sharing photos of events and newsworthy articles. FALA’s new electronic newsletter debuted in October 2012. The newsletter is called FALA Insider: News & Notes. The first issue featured information about the 2012 annual conference as well as a column about our industry that was published in several state newspapers. Additionally, the newsletter provided details about a FALA election initiative that provided ALFs with ALF voter guidelines to prevent voter fraud.
Luis Collazo, of Palm Breeze Assisted Living Facility in Hialeah, was installed at our annual conference as FALA’s 2012-13 president. He also received the 2012 Sid Rosenblatt Excellence in Leadership Award. This annual award is presented to an individual with outstanding leadership abilities and was designed to honor Sid Rosenblatt, one of the founding members of FALA. Mr. Rosenblatt has been an inspiration to FALA members for his commitment to excellence in leadership. “I am so deeply humbled,” Collazo said during his installation. “As we continue our roles as caregivers, we will continue to draw from our values. I am very grateful for this incredible honor.”
A caregiver who is passionate about ALFs and their residents, he has managed and operated Palm Breeze Assisted Living Facility since 1997. The 61-bed facility predominantly provides care for those individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. Mr. Collazo has not only been president of the Miami-Dade and Monroe County chapters of FALA, but has initiated lobbying efforts and grass roots movements to educate the state legislature about the needs of the assisted living facility industry.
Additionally, Mr. Collazo was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Elder Abuse Task Force, the Town of Miami Lakes Elder Affairs Committee and Elderly Affairs Committee. He is also vice-president of the Florida Coalition for Assisted Living and Mental Health.
Noted for his tireless advocacy and lobbying efforts, in 1997 he received both the State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs Alliance for Aging Margaret Weedman Elder Advocate Award and the South Florida Mental Health Association Hero in the Fight Award.
FALA intends to continue to carry out its vision of displaying integrity and professionalism, best practices in providing quality of care and innovation and commitment to the profession. We have accomplished a great deal in 20 years, and look forward to 20 more.
Pat Lange is Executive Director of the Florida Assisted Living Association, which is based in Tallahassee and represents more than 600 assisted care communities and assisted living facilities in Florida. She can be reached at PatL@falamail.org.