Frank W. Berry (center), commissioner of Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), is shown after a meeting last year of the DCH board. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Senior care homes to post inspection reports on own websites

The state agency charged with safeguarding seniors in assisted living and personal care homes took a step Thursday that officials say will bring more transparency to the system and help consumers.

The Department of Community Health board gave final approval to a rule change that will require facilities to post the most recent 18 months of state inspection reports and correction plans on their own websites. It’s unclear exactly how useful it will be to consumers because the department doesn’t have enough staff to carry out annual inspections and has struggled at times to produce timely reports.

DCH Commissioner Frank W. Berry said the goal is to ensure the health and safety of thousands of Georgians who live in these state-licensed facilities. He did not immediately know Thursday when consumers would begin to see the changes.

“Getting more information will help them make an informed decision as they look for places that they will want to live,” Berry said. “The more information you give them, the more informed they can be to make a good decision.”

The new rule follows an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation last fall that found nearly 700 cases of neglect and abuse across a system of assisted living and large personal care homes. The public was largely in the dark about the problems because the DCH, which regulates the homes, had a state website that was cumbersome and often had reports that were outdated. The agency upgraded its website last month to make it more user friendly.

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