Group Forms to Advocate on Behalf of Assisted Living Residents

Fifteen elder care, elder law, and senior advocacy groups have formed the Assisted Living Consumer Alliance (ALCA), a national non-profit organization advocating for stronger consumer protections for assisted living residents.

The ALCA website -- -- provides news and information for both consumers and professionals, including consumer advice and summaries of each state's assisted living rules.

The group is filling a large information gap. While assisted living is the fastest growing sector of senior housing in the country, most consumers know little about it. Assisted living standards vary greatly from state to state and usually give a great deal of discretion to individual facilities. Too frequently, assisted living rules and policies are based on the facility's convenience rather than the residents' needs and preferences. Meanwhile, assisted living has received scant attention from the federal government.

Assisted living residents are vulnerable to a host of serious problems, ranging from medication mismanagement to inadequate health care to financial or physical abuse. The absence of national standards, combined with uneven state standards, results in consumers often not having adequate recourse when problems occur, even when those problems result in injury or eviction.

"Consumer voices are vitally important in making sure that assisted living facilities provide adequate care to their vulnerable residents,"Âsaid ALCA's President, Eric Carlson, a staff attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, one of the new group's founding organizations. ALCA Vice-President Toby S. Edelman added: "Assisted living care is too frequently substandard. ALCA and its members are working for necessary reforms, including appropriate standards and meaningful oversight."Â

The fifteen founding members of the Alliance are: Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles, CA; California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform; the Center for Medicare Advocacy; Citizens for Better Care; Coalition of Institutionalized Aged & Disabled; Long Term Care Community Coalition; Michigan Campaign for Quality Care; National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; National Association of Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs; National Association of State Ombudsman Programs; NCCNHR (formerly, National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform); National Senior Citizens Law Center; Ohio State Ombudsman Office; Resident Councils of Washington; and the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

For more ElderLawAnswers information on assisted living facilities, click here.