The challenge of finding the right balance of independence and attentive care for long-term senior living can be challenging – even gut-wrenching – for families. And when it comes to private pay senior care, costs can be incredibly expensive.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigative reporter Carrie Teegardin has spent a year looking for what families won’t see on tours of more than 400 private pay senior care facilities in Georgia. Her investigation found hundreds of safety violations, incidents of physical abuse, and assaults to dignity that often go unreported. GPB TV will air a special on the investigation on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. called Unprotected: Georgia's Broken Senior Care Industry.
Last month, Carrie Teegardin joined On Second Thought to walk through the AJC series called “Unprotected: Broken Promises In Georgia’s Senior Care Industry.” Her team’s reporting began over a year ago and involved poring over thousands of documents, court records, police reports and inspections along with interview with family members and experts.
Teegardin and her colleagues at the AJC found that the marketing of many Georgia senior care facilities did not align with the realities of neglect and abuse occurring within them. In particular, the AJC found a pattern of weak oversight from the Department of Community Health, with violations unchecked and inconsistent reporting practices.
As part of the project, the AJC built a "facility search" where users can look up hundreds of senior homes across the state. The investigative team flagged facilities with a pattern of serious issues based on public records from the past four years, and included details on each violation they recorded.
Reaction to the AJC's investigation has been explosive. Gov. Brian Kemp's office says the investigation reveals problems that must be addressed. Representative Sharon Cooper, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, says she'll introduce legislation to improve both inspections and staffing at the facilities.
But, some of the most heatbreaking reactions come from readers who responded with their own stories of family members they believe have suffered mistreatment at senior care facilities in Georgia.
Meanwhile, industry group Georgia Senior Living Association tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it has "great intolerance for wrongdoing or substandard care." It cites "robust inspections," but acknowledges a need for better training.
The AJC will continue releasing reporting for the “Unprotected” series through the end of the year. You can follow their work on their website.
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