Report Finds Serious Safety Concerns at Assisted Living Homes

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheryl Morgan, whose story is featured in Life and Death in Assisted Living, holds a photo of her late father. (Billy Howard Photography)

With an ever-aging population, more and more families have turned to assisted living homes to help bare the burden of looking after elderly loved ones who are no longer well enough to take care of themselves.

Almost 750,000 people live in these types of facilities, which can be an appealing alternative to traditional nursing homes because of their comfortable home-like settings.

However, unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are loosely regulated. For the past year, FRONTLINE and ProPublica reporter A.C.Thompson has been investigating the assisted living industry and has uncovered serious safety concerns at homes run by Emeritus Senior Living, the largest assisted living provider in the country.

Thompson’s FRONTLINE documentary, Life and Death in Assisted Living, produced by WGBH, airs on Tuesday, July 30, at 10 P.M. ET and this week ProPublica will also publish a series about the findings of his extensive investigation. Thompson joins The Takeaway to discuss his findings. 

Watch a preview of the documentary here:

Watch Life and Death in Assisted Living Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.


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A.C. Thompson

Produced by:

Elizabeth Ross


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Mandelin from Seattle

My MIL works at an assisted living facility in the alzheimer area. She is an MA but was not hired as one. She has a CNA but is not employed as one. While ASSISTED living is the goal for the families that dump their "loved" ones in these homes what is really going on is the families are just shelving their "loved" ones away in a place that they think is more homey and CHEAPER than a nursing home. Instead of blaming the low paid assistants why don't families take some responsibility for the position they put their "loved" ones in?

My MIL remarks pretty much daily that there are people who need full-time nursing care yet the family does not visit, the assistants are to report each time a resident needs more than just assistance.

My MIL is to be helping these folks care for themselves yet she ends up changing, bathing and feeding them as if they were infants. Yet the families (those that do visit) never seem concerned that their "loved" ones cannot and are not caring for themselves.

My MIL is repeatedly kicked, punched, and verbally abused by the residents yet there is no way to report or stop the abuse. The families of these residents don't care about their families and choose to keep their "loved" ones in these places. Then when something happens they try to assuage their guilt by blame shifting to the workers.

Jul. 29 2013 05:17 PM
GR Miller from Portland, OR

My grandmother lived at an Emeritus residence for over two years before having a stroke last December. She had been severely disabled by this stroke (her speech became heavily impaired, as were her movements). An Emeritius rep visited her rehab, and, after assessing her, claimed that they could continue to handle her needs.

Her needs not met. I stayed with her in her TV chair in the week before she passed and recorded the repeated acts of negligence on a timeline. She was left wearing medicated patches for twelve hours past the recommended length of time, attendants told her to go to the bathroom in her diaper rather than call them when she had to go to the bathroom, and on one occasion an attendant didn't offer her food at meal time because she had a hard time understanding my grandma. As the employee put it, "there's not point in offering her a meal, because there's clearly nothing going on up there."

Her health rapidly declined in the month she spent at Emeritus. We didn't realize how bad it was until I came to visit one day, and she had vomited all over her front but her emergency pull cord was left far out of her reach. In the three days before my grandma's life ended, we moved her to a new facility outside Emeritus. On this day a regional representative from Emeritus asked if we'd like to consider using their end-of-life-services rather than shift her care outside of their control. We declined.

I attribute her steep decline after rehab to the indignities my grandma was subjected to by Emeritus. I don't know where to report these abuses. I have a paper trail of unsigned intake forms, proof that they did not follow medical protocol, and other records which show their failure provide her with the services they claimed to be able to provide. The emotional wounds are still raw, but this story makes me want to take the next step, even though I'm not sure where to start.

Jul. 29 2013 01:18 PM

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