As the American population ages, many of the nation's elderly needing long-term care are turning to assisted living facilities as a less expensive and more homelike alternative to nursing homes. But these facilities are often less safe than popularly perceived, according to one in a series of investigative articles in USA Today on assisted living centers.
Staff shortages and insufficient training are placing elderly residents at risk of inadequate care, delayed diagnosis and treatment and even death, according to the newspaper's investigation, which was based on an analysis of two years of assisted living inspection data from seven states.
Nearly one in five facilities inspected by regulators in those states was cited for at least one staffing violation, ranging from too few employees on a work shift to lack of a certified facility manager, the investigation found. Low pay and high turnover contribute to staffing and training problems at assisted living facilities, the investigators found. The article recounts the stories of several assisted living residents who died allegedly due to neglect or improper care.
USA Today's analysis of inspection records also revealed that more than 1 in 10 inspected facilities had been cited for neglecting to obtain criminal background checks on employees, required by many states.
Among the topics covered in the other series articles on assisted living facilities are: facilities are increasingly accepting care for elderly residents who are too sick, too aggressive or require more care than the centers are able to provide; the patchwork of laws that now regulate such facilities; sexual assaults at facilities; and how to to find the right assisted living center.
To read the full USA Today article, click here. (And see "Related Articles" in the right-hand column.)
For USA Today's advice on choosing an assisted living facility, click here.
To learn more about assisted living facilities, click here.