In response to the rising rates of assault abuse and neglect of seniors across the country multiple investigative journalists have covered this issue over the last year. Recently, Carrie Teegardin a veteran journalist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, along with her team, did the same for senior living communities in Georgia. They collected thousands of public records from a variety of agencies to conduct an unprecedented examination of Georgia’s private-pay senior care industry.
The AJC’s project began more than two years ago when she began looking into questionable bond deals that had financed senior care facilities in Georgia. That investigation raised questions about the quality of care and adequacy of oversight for the entire private-pay senior care system in Georgia. Teegardin and her editor, Lois Norder, began exploring how the newspaper could study the industry and provide the public access to facility-specific records to help families make informed decisions about care for their loved ones.
Among other findings, they reported:
Georgia fails to adequately protect seniors in assisted living communities and large personal care homes. These include cases where homes failed to take proper steps to protect residents who fell repeatedly and cases where residents pushed their emergency call pendants/buttons and waited hours for someone to respond.
These facilities largely rely on low-wage workers who may not be properly vetted or trained and who may be given unreasonable workloads. Two out of every five homes were cited for training violations, even though Georgia has lower standards than other states.
A fourth of all homes have been cited for failing to complete criminal background checks of workers. Eleven of these facilities were cited for employing someone whose criminal record should have barred them from working in senior care facilities.
Inadequate staffing is a significant reason for problems. Nearly a fifth of all Georgia facilities have been cited for failing to have enough qualified workers on duty to meet residents’ needs.
Information about these homes compiled by the Department of Community Health, the state agency that licenses and inspects them, is vague, incomplete, outdated and confusing. That makes it nearly impossible for members of the public to find out about what’s happening in these facilities.
State regulators don’t have crucial information from other government agencies. We found crimes, such as theft, abuse and exploitation, in spot checks of police reports that weren’t reflected in DCH inspection reports. We also found cases where homes failed Department of Public Health food facility inspection, but Department of Community Health public records made no mention of them.
Facilities themselves are failing to report serious incidents as required. Nearly 30 percent of facilities have been cited for failing to report to state regulators or to police serious incidents as required.
The series of articles and interviews can be found here:
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