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Frontline and ProPublica Investigate For-Profit Assisted Living Facilities

July 19, 2013

The PBS documentary series Frontline will air a special report entitled “Life and Death in Assisted Living” on July 30.

The report was produced in collaboration with ProPublica, a nonprofit organization that produces public-interest investigative journalism.

The documentary will focus on Emeritus Senior Living, the country’s largest operator of assisted living facilities, with more than 37,000 elders living in 400 facilities nationwide.

In a press release, Frontline correspondent and ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson said that companies like Emeritus often value profit for shareholders over quality care for residents.

“Emeritus’s history — its explosive growth, its move to take in more and more residents with greater and greater health problems, its desire to reward investors — makes for a perfect study of what’s taking place in this rapidly expanding corner of the country’s health care business,” Thompson said.

Unlike nursing homes, the assisted living industry is unregulated by the federal government, and there are no training standards for its workers.

“There are, of course, skilled and dedicated individual caregivers working in the assisted living industry — professionals who are absolutely committed to providing our parents and grandparents with the best possible care,” Thompson said.

But the drive to maximize revenue has led many assisted living companies to cut back on staffing levels, leaving residents in danger of low-quality care, the report alleges.

— by Matthew Ozga

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