Two senior care referral services have agreed to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission that they misled consumers regarding the amount of research they conducted on the long-term care communities they were recommending.
The proposed settlements prohibit the two companies, CarePatrol Inc. and ABCSP Inc., from misrepresenting their services in the future and mark the resolution of the FTC’s first cases involving Internet-based companies offering placement assistance for seniors and their families seeking long-term care.
“Senior citizens need honest information when they’re considering long term care options,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “Companies that claim to know which facilities to recommend to consumers need to be able to back up their claims or they will hear from the FTC.”
Both CarePatrol Inc. and ABCSP Inc. offer free assistance to seniors who are looking for senior care communities, according to two administrative complaints issued by the FTC, and receive compensation from the communities that seniors move into.
CarePatrol operates through franchises in 12 states, while ABCSP, which also does business as “Always Best Care,” operates through a network of franchisees throughout the nation.
One of the complaints alleges that CarePatrol claims to grade each community from ‘A’ to ‘F’ based on their most recent state surveys, with local senior care consultants pre-screening each recommended community. Other claims include “monitoring each community’s care history and state violations.”
In reality, CarePatrol allegedly misrepresented its claims, because in most states listed on the company’s website, it hadn’t monitored or graded any communities and does not operate through senior care consultants in every state, according to the FTC complaint. Further, it doesn’t monitor or grade communities based on the most recent state inspection reports.
The FTC complaint against Always Best Care says the company’s claims include providing “the best choices to our clients while maintaining the highest standards for living arrangements… we match our clients with the top three or four most appropriate living options based upon individual needs, custom screening and available budgets…” and that their care coordinators “are local and have personally viewed virtually all of the assisted living communities in [the consumer’s] area.”
However, ABCSP allegedly misrepresented that placement recommendations for senior living communities in different geographic locations were based on personal knowledge of its employees. Additionally, the company typically isn’t aware of which senior living communities have contracts with the franchises under the ABCSP umbrella.
Written by Alyssa Gerace