Michael Berens

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 6

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In yesterday’s post, a Seattle Police Detective defined elder abuse as:

  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • financial exploitation
  • neglect

In Part 6 of Seniors for Sale: Placement perils and successes, Michael Berens, Seattle Times reporter, delves into the senior housing placement industry, focusing on one placement company that placed a client in a Tacoma-area Adult Family Home (AFH) with a history of safety and health violations – elder abuse –  even a fatal event, but because the placement company had not done its research, it was not aware of the home’s previous infractions and kept placing unknowing vulnerable adults in the home’s care.

Many of these placement service companies operate state-wide and/or nation-wide, and believe that there is no way that they can help as many people as they do if they are required to visit each and every home/assisted living option available to the public that they are trying to assist.  These companies are oftentimes characterized as Bed Brokers – an industry that is growing exponentially without much scrutiny or State controls.

CAVEAT: Just as in every assisted living situation – there are good senior housing options and there are bad senior housing options – so too there exist reputable senior placement companies, and not-so-reputable placement companies.

I personally think that these companies can be helpful to those looking for a senior housing option that suits their, or their loved one’s, needs.  I caution those using these agencies, however, to understand that not every option out there is listed with placement companies.  If a senior housing company does not choose to be listed with a placement service company, that option will not be offered, even if that particular housing option might be the very best choice for some families: cost-wise, location-wise, and even service-wise.

In a news update, Michael Berens’ article, State gets tough on referrals for elder care, we see that attention is now being directed at these placement referral companies in the hopes that those they serve – vulnerable adults in need of some sort of daily care – are protected from those companies who are simply aiming to make a profit at the most vulnerable time in an elder’s life.

As I mentioned in previous articles found in my blog category, Senior Housing, there are numerous resources available for those looking for senior housing for themselves or a family member.  Please go to that category and type in a search term in the space located on the right-hand side of the page to find the topic that interests you most.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 5

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Part 5, of Seniors for Sale: Hiding Harm: the human toll, is one example of the lack of reporting that goes on in some assisted living residential settings – in this case – an Adult Family Home (AFH).

When you watch the video link above, you’ll be shocked at how a particular accident happened – and its after effects on the victim –  and you’ll be horrified at how long it took before it was reported to the police.

Perhaps this statistic will provide a partial explanation:

only 16% of all incidents of elder abuse are reported.

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not only are many caregivers not reporting incidents of abuse that occur; surprisingly, family members fail to get beyond the denial stage when they discover that their loved one just might be in danger in the very location entrusted to his/her care.  They can’t believe that the caregiving solution they found for their loved one has turned out to be disastrous in every way.

The police investigator for this case states the following:

We don’t tolerate domestic violence, but that’s not always the case with elder abuse.

The final episode of Seniors for Sale will be submitted tomorrow, Saturday.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 4

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Seniors for Sale, Part 4: Suspicious Deaths

It doesn’t get much worse than the video attached above.  Two suspicious deaths are the focus of this episode of the Seniors for Sale series.  The two cases discussed in this video occurred at the same Adult Family Home (AFH), Houghton Lakeview, located in a very swank area of Kirkland, Washington.  It goes without saying that this Adult Family Home was shut down.

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Family members whose loved ones died at the hands of these caregivers speak out about how the abuse was discovered, and how the State of Washington did, or did not, effectively respond.

One of the family members whose father died at the hands of the caregiver/owner of the Adult Family Home poignantly stated:

It’s unfathomable to realize that we were paying these people to abuse our loved one!

Conviction results (attached) of one of the suspicious deaths was reported by the same Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Berens, who wrote the series, Seniors for Sale.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 3

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What Needs to be Done?  is the subject matter of Part 3 of  Seniors for Sale.  In this episode, the viewer is encouraged to do research about a facility, Adult Family Home or otherwise, prior to considering a move to that senior housing alternative.  In my article, “Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting Senior Housing,” I provide helpful resources that everyone can use in order to find out:

  • if any complaints have been filed against a particular home;
  • if the State issued any citations, and the nature of those citations;
  • if the Long-Term Care Ombudsman office received particular complaints and the nature of those complaints.
The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No one has to go into this housing search blind.  Please view the very brief video provided in Part 3 of this Pulitzer Prize winning series by Michael Berens of the Seattle Times, then click on the attached article that I’ve provided for your assistance.  Although the links I provided relate to resources in the State of Washington, similar resources exist nation-wide.  Check with your State Ombudsman office or Department of Health and Social Services for your State’s equivalent.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 2

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I provide Part 2 of Seniors for Sale – Janice and Elaine.

The Great Seal of the State of Washington
The Great Seal of the State of Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The attached link connects you to Part 2 of 6 of this Pultizer Prize winning series written by Michael Berens of the Seattle Times.  Please don’t give up hope.  Once all 6 of these episodes have been provided – one per day – I will provide you with story outcomes and repercussions in the Adult Family Home industry in Washington State.  Keep in mind – as I indicated in my first submission –  although this horrific situation took place in the State of Washington, this type of abuse goes on in other states, and countries as well – whether in group homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or similar senior residential settings.

Are there stellar Adult Family Homes (AFHs) in Washington state?  Absolutely.  But of the 2,900 AFHs in the state, 446 of those were cited for major violations since 2010.  The industry certainly was not regulated well enough to avoid such violations.  That is changing.

Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 1

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My local newspaper ran an investigative report about the Adult Family Home (AFH) industry in Washington State.  Depending upon where you live, a similar  assisted living home may be called a Group Home.

The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.
The Seal of Washington, Washington’s state seal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Washington State, no more than 6 residents can live in an Adult Family Home.  These “businesses” popped up all over Washington State over the past several years as entrepreneurs realized how much money they could make taking in residents and charging thousands for rent and resident care.  At this writing, there are close to 2,900 AFHs in the state.  Since 2010, 446 of those were cited for violations of health or safety standards.  Caveat: there are many Adult Family Homes that are doing an extraordinary job, but it’s the bad ones that make the Headlines and that’s the way it should be.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.  I thought it appropriate to provide Michael Berens’ series, “Seniors for Sale” in six parts this week, but I provide it with a warning that this Pulitzer Prize winning expose can be very difficult to read, and watch.  Nevertheless, awareness is key, so I hope all will benefit from his extensive work on this piece.  Whether you live in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or elsewhere globally, abuse occurs world-wide and it’s the vulnerable adults in this world who are its targets.

Seniors for Sale – I provide this link to Part 1 of the series – “Ann.”