The dark side of assisted living

I haven’t had a chance to watch the PBS Frontline special called, “Life and Death in Assisted Living” yet, but I did read the online report. My interest was certainly piqued when I discovered that Emeritus was the assisted living company being investigated. My father spent the last year of his life in an Emeritus facility. I’ve written many posts about the good and bad experiences there. The PBS report takes a long and hard look about how Emeritus seems to be more interested in raking in cash that taking good care of patients. The accusations made range from hard-selling (fill those beds!) to employing woefully unqualified people to take care of dementia patients and not filing incident reports as required by law. To be fair, I would think that most of the corporations running senior residential facilities have aggressive financial goals, so Emeritus is probably not any better or worse than most of the other companies.

Are assisted living companies putting greed over good care?

Are assisted living companies putting greed over good care?

I know that if my mom had understood Dad was going to be an hour-and-a-half away from her, she would not have agreed to move him to the Emeritus property but somehow, that seemed to happen overnight. Mom said it was without her permission, but having asked around and now seeing how profit-focused Emeritus seems to be, I think it was just a hard sell tactic and Mom ended up signing a paper that allowed Dad to be moved. The rate increased multiple times in the 10 months he was there. I remember talking to the admissions coordinator when we were just checking out facilities and she told me that Dad’s monthly checks should cover “most” of the costs. Not even close. By the end, we were paying over $4000 a month and Mom had just received a notice that another big rate hike was coming right before she transferred him closer to home.

That rate didn’t include any medications, which racked up a bill totaling several thousands of dollars that we just finished paying off earlier this year. I did report the facility to a state board because I felt they overmedicated my father and gave him medications that were under scrutiny for being dangerous to give to elderly patients. I never heard any followup from my complaint.

The PBS report also talks about the numerous patient falls due to staff not adequately supervising patients. My father fell several times while at the Emeritus facility. The staff called us each time there was an incident (that we know of) and took him to the hospital when necessary. Even with adequate staff, preventing a fall can be difficult with dementia patients. I feel that the Emeritus facility that my dad was at followed the rules in this area, though I did wonder if there was a better solution than placing my dad’s mattress on the floor after he fell out of bed multiple times.

I’ve read both good experiences and horror stories when it comes to senior residential facilities from the amazing bloggers I follow. If you have the chance to catch the PBS special, let me know what you think. Can corporate entities balance making a decent profit with providing excellent care for our most vulnerable citizens?

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1 Comment

Filed under Awareness & Activism

One response to “The dark side of assisted living

  1. I have heard from friends who were professional in an regulatory environment that the nonprofits were generally much better. However, there are not enough nonprofits especially away from the urban areas. Both places where dad has been were for profit. The first seemed much more marketing oriented than the current one, but the staff turnover is high at both. That is related to low salaries and maybe insufficient training,

    We need to be willing to pay the true cost of quality staff and that would raise the costs even higher. Non-profits would qt least not be trying to add 7 percent or more just for profit. But for now, dad is happy where he is — though he is also paying over $4000 per month now.

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