Media Responds to Assisted Living Investigative Report

In response to an investigative report by PBS/Frontline that aired last week on the assisted living industry and Emeritus specifically, mainstream media has turned its coverage to the topic, in some cases raising similar questions to those addressed by Frontline, but also largely defending the industry. 

Forbes ran a column following the broadcast, which it titled, “Lessons We Can Learn From Frontline’s Expose of Assisted Living.” The column’s author, Howard Gleckman, has spent time studying assisted living communities and notes his experience on the topic. 

“I can’t speak to what’s happening at Emeritus, a for-profit company that has 50,000 beds in 480 facilities in 45 states,” Gleckman writes. “But I spend a lot of time in assisted living facilities and [have written] about what consumers need to know about choosing one.”

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Contrary to the PBS findings on memory care—that people suffering from dementia should be cared for in nursing homes, Gleckman instead suggests residential care can, and is, a perfectly viable option for the majority of those people. 

“While some dementia patients may need skilled care, the vast majority do not and can do very well with the help of high-quality aides. …People with dementia need to be in good care settings. They don’t need to be in nursing homes,” he writes. 

Gleckman also refutes several other claims made by the report: he points out that more regulation does not necessarily mean better care, and that less regulation may be worth the trade offs. 

“Keep in mind that many of the most creative senior service solutions over the past few decades have come in less regulated settings,” Gleckman writes. “As the operators of the cutting–edge Green House nursing homes will tell you, it is not easy to be creative if you are running a highly-regulated skilled nursing facility.

The New York Times also ran a column on the PBS report, urging adult children of ailing parents to do their homework, but also noting the report focused on the worst-case scenarios of just a handful of residents. 

“…the film delves into several worst-case examples, making full use of the dramatic power of visual media,” the Times writes. 

The mainstream news outlets urge people to do their research and act early, should they find assisted living either is not satisfactory or is not the right option for a parent who requires regular medical treatment. 

“When families enter this zone, therefore, they can’t be lulled by the chandeliers,” the Times writes. “Assisted living remains a reasonable option for people who can’t manage their own households any longer, who need help with personal care, but who aren’t so ill that they require 24/7 nursing.”

The Forbes column agrees assisted living is not the right option for everyone, but it can be a very viable option for those who don’t require full time care, but can’t provide all of the care the need for themselves. 

“There are bad assisted living facilities,” Forbes writes. “But assisted living is not a bad concept. Run well, these facilities fill an important niche. But to get the most out of them, consumers must be discerning shoppers and  strong advocates.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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