A new AJC review of inspection reports for Georgia’s assisted living communities and large personal care homes revealed hundreds of recent infractions, including 140 violations of residents’ rights, 51 citations for failing to report serious incidents and dozens of medication errors and cases where residents with dementia went missing.
The review also exposed 180 new cases where violations involving residents being harmed or placed at high risk of harm.
Some of the reports date back to spring 2018, though state regulators only made them public in recent months.
» SEARCHABLE DATABASE: Details on every facility studied by the AJC
The AJC unveiled its website last fall as part of its investigation of the state’s senior care industry. The investigation, “Unprotected,” already had exposed hundreds of cases of abuse and neglect at the state’s assisted living communities and large personal care homes. It also found systemic problems with the senior care industry and state oversight.
In response to the findings, the Georgia General Assembly is debating whether to impose new requirements on these senior care facilities.
A bill that would increase fines and require more staffing and training was overwhelming approved last month by the Georgia House. House Bill 987 is expected to be taken up by the Senate in the coming days. Gov. Brian Kemp has said he supports the effort to improve standards for the state’s senior care providers, and many within the industry also support the bill.
With the additional 2018 reports and inspection findings for most of 2019, the AJC website now has five years of inspections for many facilities.
The website includes a severity rating for each violation. In addition, the website red-flags homes with troubled inspection histories involving repeated citations for the same violation, widespread violations, or incidents where residents were harmed or placed at high risk.
About 90 of the approximately 400 facilities across the state are now red-flagged.
The ratings site includes all of Georgia’s assisted living communities as well as personal care homes that have 25 or more beds. The website also includes police reports for dozens of homes and public health reports for homes whose dining facilities failed inspections. The updated ratings and the AJC’s series is available online at: www.ajc.com/unprotected.
Melanie McNeil, Georgia’s long-term care ombudsman, said the AJC’s website helps consumers make sense of state inspection reports that are written from a regulator’s perspective. That’s especially important for people shopping for a facility, she said.
“Very often people searching for long-term care have to do it quickly,” she said. “Being able to access information that’s written for consumers makes it so much easier for someone who is already in a very stressful situation.”
The AJC’s ratings site is designed to give consumers detailed information they need when they find themselves in a crisis.
“One of the things good journalism does is empower citizens,” said AJC Editor Kevin Riley. “We’re continuing to update our database of these facilities so that citizens who need information can get it. That way, they can make decisions that keep their loved ones safe.”
Assisted living facilities and large personal care homes are not skilled nursing facilities. They are not allowed to provide around-the-clock medical care. They are residential homes that provide assistance with meals, dressing, housekeeping, showers and other types of oversight. They can also provide assistance with medications. More help is allowed in assisted living communities than in personal care homes.
Many of these homes also offer memory care for residents with dementia.
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