Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Comparing Assisted Living Communities

I work for the American Elder Care Research Organization. Our mission is to help families afford the cost of elder care. One of the ways we do so is by helping families to find affordable care. Often times the word affordable is associated with inexpensive and inexpensive can have the negative association of poor quality. Fortunately, in the world of elder care, inexpensive does not mean poor quality, but I can understand the concern. To help families alleviate this concern we have put together a guide that assists families in evaluating the quality of care provided in assisted living residences.

Did You Know?  There is no federal oversight of the assisted living industry. Each state has different inspection schedules, licensing requirements and enforcement.

Regrettably, the federal government does not produce a definitive rating and ranking system that enables families to compare assisted living residences as is done for nursing homes. Therefore, in our guide, we recommend a two-stepped approach that combines reading resident reviews of assisted living communities with researching state assisted living records.

How to decide which is better? Photo by Abbeyfield Kent
However, this approach is easier said than done. Family or resident reviews of assisted living communities are widely available online.  However, as is the case for so many online review websites, one must be cautious and weed out the overtly glowing reviews produced by marketers and the strongly negative ones sometimes planted by competitors.  Alternatively, one can choose an online review site that does this for you by verifying its contributors.  One free option is available here.

State records on assisted living communities also have access challenges.  The best case scenario is a state that publishes its inspection reports online. Unfortunately, not all states do so. Some states publish only citations or violations. Others publish complaints. Further complicating matters is the fact that sometimes they publish unverified or uninvestigated complaints. Still other states publish nothing at all. 

Accessing state records is indeed a challenge. On our website, we have done much of the work for our visitors. One can read a state by state guide with details about what each state publishes, how to access those records and links directly to their databases to enable easier searching.

Start here.