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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Birthday August 1, 2013

This week marked an interesting development in assisted living and memory care homes. PBS ran an expose of the largest of the corporate assisted living  and memory care centers in the country, Emeritus.
In the 1990's many small owner-operated assisted living homes were started in response to the growing need for people to be housed where their meals could be prepared for them, their laundry attended to and a community of like-minded and similarly needy older adults could be found. These older adults did not need nursing home or skilled nursing and at the time, allegations and lawsuits showed that nursing homes were not treating their patients as well as they should. So instead of "warehousing" older adults who could no longer live alone, these smaller, usually well-appointed homes with small apartments, grassy areas and chef-cooked meals were established.
When the savings and loan crisis hit in the late 1990's some of these small homes were hurting economically and were bought out by corporations large enough to weather the economic storm. Brookdale Living was one, Emeritus was another such corporation. On one black here in Mesa AZ eleven small homes were sold to corporations in one year.
Every small business owner knows that his or her business only runs well when the owner is present and involved in the day-to-day operations of his/her business. Absentee ownership of any business has risks of corner-cutting. And corporations need to earn a profit for their shareholders.
Many assisted living homes maintained their populations and fared well for a while---until the residents aged and their need for skilled nursing care grew.
The staffing patterns needed to meet the needs of elderly residents who were capable of showering,toileting   and dressing themselves, finding the restaurant and socializing with each other was much less than the number of people needed and the skill level of those staff when assistance with tasks of daily living became necessary. Corporate tried to meet these needs by assigning a fee to each task a resident needed. For example $85.00 was added to the monthly bill if a person needed to be escorted to the dining room.
But they did nothing to train and hire additional staff to carry out these duties and the show accurately pointed out the worst most flagrant nightmares that follow sometimes.
My husband is in an owner operated, onsite managed home which owns no others. The staff is not always perfect, but they work as teams, they care about the residents , there is little staff turnover and this week for my husband's birthday, they decorated his door, had him wear the birthday hat, took his picture, fed everyone birthday cake and made him and us, his family feel loved and special. We are at the home almost daily, we are loved and respected and so are all the residents. Thank you Arbor Rose

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