CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — A Charlotte County family is getting the answer they hoped for after they received a notice that the cost for the care of a loved one in an assisted living facility was going up.
Winston Schooley has been living with his family in Punta Gorda for the past ten years, and just over two years ago, his mother, Eleanor Schooley, also moved down.
"She was having memory issues, so we found an assisted care facility locally here so she can be near the family," said Winston Schooley.
Last Saturday, Schooley received a letter from the assisted living facility in North Port, FL where his 80-year-old mother lives.
"I received a letter from them notifying me that they were going to be increasing the rent starting May 1st and that it was a necessary increase due to increased costs," said Schooley.
The letter from The Springs at South Biscayne Assisted Living Facility stated rates would be going up to cover increasing healthcare costs, labor, insurance, utilities, and projected capital improvement to the community.
"The increase for my mother is at 8-percent, and it adds up when you're talking about a rent that was already over 4,000 dollars a month," said Schooley.
Schooley says while this is not the first time rates have gone up, he was left wondering why prices would go up during a national crisis.
The worst part, Schooley says, is not being able to discuss the situation with his mother.
It's been three weeks since he was able to visit due to Coronavirus visitation restrictions.
"She had a cellphone, and she's had it for a couple of years, but because she's a stage two Alzheimer's patient, she does misplace things," said Schooley.
Schooley says both he and his sister have tried calling the facility to get in contact with their mom.
"They keep telling us someone will find her phone and get her to call us, but we haven't heard from her," said Schooley.
Feeling stuck, this week, Schooley sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
"I was asking the governor to remember that our seniors are a valuable part of our population and that they are very vulnerable," said Schooley.
"He should pass orders similar to what he did for homeowners and renters, for our senior citizens to make sure that nursing homes and assisted living facilities don't raise the rates right now," he added.
Schooley hopes this will help other senior citizens, like his mom.
"They don't have an option right now to look at other places or other options within the same facility because there is no moving or visitation," said Schooley.
FOX 4 did reach out to The Springs at South Biscayne Assisted Living Facility to ask why rates would be going up soon.
In a statement to FOX 4, Pegasus Senior Living, the company that owns The Springs, said:
“Ultimately we have decided to hold off on rental rate increases at The Springs due to impacts of COVID-19. We will further evaluate rental rate increases at a later time. Rental rate increases are typically evaluated on an annual basis and are driven based on increases to associate wages, necessary premiums, and other business expenses that are increased on an annual basis. Our number one goal and priority is to create the best possible care and lifestyle for our residents. We feel truly honored to serve them especially during these times where we know that the efforts and protocols we continue to implement are with them in mind.”
While a spokesperson for Pegasus Senior Living says they had been going back and forth on whether or not to raise rates beginning in May, they ultimately decided to hold off on that increase Tuesday.