Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PBS Frontline: "Life and Death in Assisted Living": a troubling look at the nation's largest chain (Emeritus)

On July 30, 2013 PBS presented a scathing report in its Frontline series, “Life and Death in Assisted Living”, with a focus on the largest assisted living facility chain in the U.S., Emeritus.  The link is here
The documentary presented several cases of severe injury or death of residents, mostly in California and in the deep South, at Emeritus facilities, and presents the resulting lawsuits by the families.  The film presents the case that the company (publicly traded) is most concerned about numbers and keeping its facilities full, and does not hire and properly train enough staff to handle residents who are on the borderline of needing to be in nursing homes, or to have full time hands-on caregivers at home.
During the care of my own mother (who passed away at the end of 2010), I looked at the Emeritus in Arlington, VA.  I did not come away with a sense of these problems.  The apartments are small.  The facility had a separate Alzheimer’s floor with doors locked.  Mother never was moved into an institution until a hospice four days before she passed away.

An aunt lived for several years at an Emeritus facility in Ohio before passing away, also in 2010, and I did not hear complaints of any problems such as in this film.
The film would leave the impression that adult children of disabled parents cannot depend on institutions to relieve them of hands-on responsibility, even if the parents have the money (up to $6000 a month for assisted living and maybe $9000 for nursing homes).  

Emeritus told me that there are definite criteria for eligibility for assisted living. One requirement is that the elder not have reactivated tuberculosis.

“Assisted living is the rock we don’t want to look under.”
The other huge chain is, of course, Sunrise.

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