The Sacramento Bee reported on the conclusion of the wrongful death and abuse trial against Emeritus Corp.  At the end of the liability phase of the trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $3.875 million for Joan Boice’s pain and suffering. That award, however, had been capped at $250,000 by Judge Judy Holzer Hersher under state law that applies to medical malpractice cases.

The second phase of the trial is the jury hearing evidence related to punitive damages.  The jury decided yes and awarded the family $23,000,000.81.  The 81 cents was for the resident’s age.  A clear rebuke to Defendants harping on her age during the trial.

“It took the panel less than a day of deliberations following two days of testimony to decide what the damages should be in the punitive phase of the trial. The same jury on Monday came back with a finding of liability against Emeritus and found that the Seattle-based corporation acted with malice, oppression and fraud in its treatment of Joan Boice. The woman died in February 2009, three months after she left Emeritus at Emerald Hills in Auburn with bed sores spreading over portions of her body.”

Testimony at the trial showed that Emeritus at times had no caregivers on duty during the overnight shift during Boice’s three-month stay at Emerald Hills.
 

 

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported that an assisted-living facility is being held responsible for the death of a resident who suffered head injuries from a fall and received no medical attention for days afterward.

The Health Department’s investigative report says that Lighthouse of Columbia Heights “failed to report changes” in the resident’s condition to a nurse and “failed to seek medical attention in a timely manner” after the resident fell in November 2011 and developed a sizable bump on one side of her head and a smaller one on the other side.

The resident was hospitalized three days later before dying on Dec. 5.  Her death certificate concluded the fall caused her death.  In citing the center for neglect, the report noted that the facility had no registered nurse available for unlicensed staffers to call after hours in the event of changes in residents’ conditions.

The estate of Pauline Cook, a resident killed at OakBridge Terrace, a Rock Hill assisted living home is suing the home and two employees.  The Herald of Rock Hill reports that the lawsuit says the crime could have been prevented.  Cook was found dead in her shower in November at OakBridge Terrace. Her death came the day after she reported to staff and police that someone had been forging her checks.  The lawsuit accuses ACTS Retirement-Life Communities of wrongful death, negligence and misconduct. The suit also says the home’s resident nursing director and a cook knew about the alleged thefts and could have stopped her from killing Cook.

Employee Braquette Walton was arrested and charged with Cook’s death. Police said the nurse’s aide later confessed to killing Cook and trying to cover up the crime. Walton faces several charges including murder and burglary, and she is being held without bail in the York County jail.

Prosecutor Kevin Brackett said at Walton’s bond hearing in December that Walton used her work badge to enter the building, hid from security cameras and employees in an unused room and called a nursing station at least seven times in an attempt to get into Cook’s room unnoticed. She’s accused of smothering Cook and then dragging her to the shower and leaving the water running in an effort to make it look like Cook accidentally fell.

 

McKnight’s Long Term Care News reported on a new survey that shows the cost of living in a long-term care facility increased steadily over the last year while home care costs have stayed flat.  The daily cost for a semi-private skilled nursing facility room grew 3.4% since 2011 to a national median rate of $200 per day, according to a survey conducted by the long-term care insurer Genworth Financial.  The rate for a private SNF room jumped 4.2% since 2011, up to a median daily rate of $222. Assisted living rates saw modest growth at 1.2% since 2011, to a median monthly rate of $3,300.

“Three Myths of Senior Living Communities” is an article written by Dwayne J. Clark, founder and chief executive officer of Aegis Living.  He was nice enough to allow us to share it with our readers.

It’s difficult to overcome stereotypes of senior living communities. Despite the fact that the level of available care and amenities, and the choice and type of facilities, have evolved significantly over the past several decades, people still tend to think of senior housing as the “old folks’ homes” of the past: antiseptic, white-walled, linoleum-lined institutions with cold nurses, hot temperatures, and nasty food. It’s no wonder then that the majority of people continue to buy into three myths about senior living institutions that are not only flat-out wrong but can actually be detrimental to the well-being of their aging loved ones. The three myths of senior living communities are:

1. All senior housing options are the same. The reality is that today’s senior living industry is similar to the hotel industry with a range of choices for every lifestyle, need and budget. You can find low-end chains that offer only the very basic in care and amenities, similar to a Motel 6. There are family-run operations, set up in residential homes, not unlike bed-and-breakfasts. And then there are high-end luxury options, comparable to a Four Seasons hotel. Too often, family members and seniors avoid even considering senior living options out of fear of the unknown and a misunderstanding of what present-day senior communities are all about. They are, unfortunately, relying on outdated childhood memories of when a grandparent or a great-aunt went off to a nursing home and never came back.

This does not have to be the case. At the higher end, senior living communities can provide lifestyle activity coordinators instead of program directors, and employ chefs instead of dieticians. They can offer on-site spas and appropriately equipped gyms, massage therapy services, manicures and pedicures, movie theaters, outdoor gardens, and gourmet dinners with wine on the menu. One new site even has a “man cave,” complete with pool tables and beer taps.

2. Entering a senior living community actually hastens the end of someone’s life. Assuming that a senior is better off “aging at home” can result in unnecessary suffering and even tragedy. Many seniors who could benefit from just a little added care are often found living alone, far away from family, largely isolated and devoid of much human interaction, and typically at high risk of physical falls, malnourishment, and depression. These seniors are perfect candidates for an assisted living community because, once they are living in a place where they have access to medical care, personal assistance, medication management, good nutrition, opportunities for mental and physical activity, and a chance to make friends and socialize, they truly thrive. In fact, several new studies show that not only does a move to an assisted living community not hasten a resident’s demise but, in fact, it can actually ensure a greater quantity—and a better quality—of life.

At many senior living communities there are residents who have renewed their childhood hobbies, or taken up new ones like writing, painting or billiards. There are residents who always have a dinner or coffee companion. They can enjoy on-site book groups and religious services. They can play checkers or Wii. Residents often enjoy unexpected romances and, in some cases, marriages. Family members, freed from the worry and guilt of seeing their loved ones in less-than-ideal circumstances, tend to visit more often, strengthening long-worn family ties through new opportunities for quality time and stress-free activities.

3. Only the very wealthy, and the very poor, can afford to live in a senior living community. The fact is that retirement and assisted living communities have been consciously created by senior housing developers to be very affordable for middle-class consumers. The monthly cost of assisted living varies, but the average for a more upscale residence is between $4,200 and $6,200 a month. At first glance, that sounds like a lot of money, and many a family member immediately thinks, “There is no way my mother can afford that.”

But the cost of assisted living needs to be carefully compared with the total cost of living at home. Ongoing expenses of seniors staying in their houses might include rent or mortgage payments; property taxes and homeowners insurance; utilities, such as electricity, heating oil or propane, water, trash pickup, cable, phone and Internet service; home maintenance costs, including lawn care, snow removal, tree care; routine and major repairs to the home (and appliances and other needed home equipment like an air conditioner or furnace); car maintenance; and food and cleaning supplies. Additionally, as a parent or sibling ages, there are likely to be new costs including outside help with laundry, housekeeping, home upkeep and meal preparation; real-time monitoring devices and medical equipment; home health care; and transportation for medical appointments and other necessities. Those expenses, when taken in their entirety, are likely to be almost as much as or equal to the flat-fee monthly cost of an assisted living community. And most people are surprised when they realize that not only can their parents afford to live at one of these communities, but they actually have leftover funds.

Some seniors, of course, won’t have quite enough monthly income to pay the total or to pay for incidentals and will have to begin to tap their financial assets, whether that means selling their home, pulling funds out of an IRA or 401K or beginning to pay down their life savings. In other cases, children or siblings will help pay for the difference. And there are other options as well. Couples can share a unit, making for a discounted overall rate. Many communities offer smaller studio apartments and two residents can share a two-bedroom suite, which helps cut the monthly cost.

What most aging seniors need is some oversight by professionals who understand their unique needs. They need to be treated with kindness and dignity, like any other person whether they’re still sharp or are prone to forgetfulness, and whether they remain physically strong or are in need of a walker. Seniors will find all of that in abundance at today’s retirement and assisted living communities. For new residents, living away from the life they’ve always known is an adjustment, but—more often than not—they quickly realize that it’s a change for the better. And their family members and other loved ones soon realize that the three myths about senior living communities are just that.

 

Dwayne J. Clark is the founder and CEO of Aegis Living, currently with 28 senior living communities in Washington, California, and Nevada, and the author of “My Mother, My Son.” Visit him online at www.mymothermyson.com

Market Watch reported that Assisted Living Concepts, Inc. reported net income of $7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 as compared to $5.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Excluding the One-Time Items described below, net income in the quarters ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 would have been $6.3 million and $5.5 million, respectively.

"Fourth quarter results blossomed with the momentum we built up in quarter three," commented Laurie Bebo, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We continued to see improvements in workers compensation and general and professional liability expenses. We believe these items combined with our private pay strategy, increased occupancy and other careful cost controls resulted in record operating income for the fourth quarter and all of 2011."

For the year ended December 31, 2011, ALC reported net income of $24.4 million as compared to $16.5 million in the year ended December 31, 2010. Excluding the One-Time Items described below, net income in the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 would have been $22.1 million and $18.2 million, respectively
 

Assisted Living Concepts, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate 211 senior living residences comprising 9,325 residents in 20 states. ALC’s senior living residences typically consist of 40 to 60 units and offer a supportive, home-like setting. Residents may receive assistance with the activities of daily living either directly from ALC employees or through our wholly owned home health subsidiaries. ALC employs approximately 4,200 people.

 

Athens Banner Herald reported the arrests of CNAs at Winterville Retirement Center who assaulted and stole from residents, and the administrator embezzled an Alzheimer’s patient’s Social Security payments.  Three employees were arrested over the past two months.   Administrator Sherrye Dianne Huff apparently set the tone for an environment in which residents were punched and medication stolen. Huff is accused of stealing more than $4,000 from a 69-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.  Huff was booked into the Clarke County Jail on five felony charges – three counts of theft and two counts of exploiting an elderly or disabled person – and one count of misdemeanor theft. 

Cynthia Ann Barrow was the first employee arrested for punching an 82-year-old woman in the face because the resident had taken some butter from a food cart in the dining hall, according to police.  Barrow was charged with abuse of an elderly person.

The patient was treated at Athens Regional Medical Center for a "knot the size of an egg" on the back of her head where it struck the food cart and floor. She died a few weeks later, March 19, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the injury to her head contributed to her death.

Nine days after the resident died, another employee Shyniqua Anastacia Buckles stole more than 100 Xanax tablets that had been prescribed to the deceased resident.  Buckles was charged with fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

Assisted Living Concepts Inc. is the parent company that owns Winterville Retirement Center.

 

Long Term Living Magazine had an article about Ventas, Inc.’s announcement that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire all real estate assets of Atria Senior Living Group—the fourth largest assisted living operator in the United States—for $3.1 billion. Payment will be comprised of $1.35 billion in Ventas common stock, $150 million in cash, and the assumption or repayment of $1.6 billion of net debt.

Ventas will acquire from Atria 118 private pay seniors housing assets located in several affluent markets, including the New York metropolitan area, New England, Boston, and California. The portfolio to be acquired, which consists of 110 stable assets and eight redevelopment assets, contains approximately 13,500 units, with a median community size of 110 units, a median community age of 12 years, and a current average occupancy rate exceeding 87%.

Louisville-based Atria will continue to manage the portfolio of communities and will remain an independent, privately owned management company.

“The addition of 118 exceptional seniors housing assets […] will establish Ventas as the largest owner of seniors housing communities in the United States,” said Debra A. Cafaro, Ventas chairman, president and CEO, in a release.

Ventas expects the portfolio to generate approximately $640 million in revenues in 2011.

Upon closing, Ventas will have more than 35,000 seniors housing units across 350 properties in its portfolio and will conduct business with four of the top five assisted living operators in the United States.

“This new relationship with Ventas will combine Atria’s senior housing management and operations expertise with the strength of an S&P 500 company known for making high quality, long-term real estate investments,” said Atria CEO John A. Moore. “This puts us in a position to keep our residents, employees and commitment to quality as our utmost priorities. Ventas’ commitment to make a long term investment in our real estate will serve as the basis for the continued growth of the Atria platform.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval and other customary closing conditions. Ventas expects the acquisition to be completed in the first half of 2011.

Earlier this month, Ventas agreed to acquire the interests in 58 communities from Sunrise Senior Living, Inc., for $41.5 million. Upon closing, Ventas will own 100% of all 79 of its communities managed by Sunrise.

 

 

The Des Moines Register reported the investigation and charges filed against Emeritus (one of the nation’s largest senior living companies) for operating an unlicensed assisted living facility and misrepresenting their licensure status to the public.  Emeritus at Silver Pines is a Cedar Rapids home licensed as a residential care facility that can provide personal assistance and supervision, but no nursing care.  Over the past 30 months, the owners of the 72-bed facility have allegedly promoted the home as an assisted living center that is authorized, equipped and staffed to provide residents with a relatively high level of medical assistance and care. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals has temporarily barred the home from accepting new residents, imposed a $13,000 fine and ordered the owners to hire a new administrator.

Emeritus is the nation’s largest assisted-living company, with annual revenue of $900 million. It operates 308 senior-living communities in 36 states, with a total potential capacity for 32,300 residents. The chain recently purchased an additional 140 homes from the bankrupt Sun West chain of care facilities.

Emeritus could face criminal charges for falsely claiming to be a state-licensed assisted living center.  It’s a crime in Iowa for a company to falsely claim that it’s a state-licensed assisted living facility, h, and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals plans to refer the matter to county prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges.

Disabled Iowans – some near death and in need of constant supervision or skilled nursing care – signed contracts with the home that specifically described the facility as "licensed by the state of Iowa as an assisted-living facility." In some cases, residents were referred to Emeritus by physicians who were led to believe that the home was licensed to provide skilled nursing care.

Company records indicate the home has been charging each of the residents up to $3,800 per month in fees. In at least one instance, it allegedly charged a resident $10,000 as a nonrefundable "move-in fee."

The company’s false claims should have been uncovered in March when inspectors visited the home.  Emeritus was cited for having two residents whose medical needs could be met only by an assisted living center or a nursing home. The home promised that in the future it would only admit people who were suitable for a residential care facility. In July, inspectors revisited the home in response to a complaint and saw the problem was much larger in scope than they had previously believed. For at least 30 months, the home had been holding itself out as an assisted living center. Some of the residents were being treated for cancer, kidney failure and severe dementia. Some were receiving hospice care.  In all, 17 residents were judged to be in need of care above and beyond what could be legally provided by the home.

State inspectors determined the home’s new administrator, hired just a few weeks before, had no education or experience pertaining to the management of a residential care facility and didn’t meet the minimum legal requirements to run such a facility.

The home’s website and automated telephone system continued to promote the home as "the assisted living community of choice."

Emeritus Senior Living owns two other Iowa care facilities: Northpark Place Senior Living Community in Sioux City, a residential care facility the company purchased on Aug. 5, and Emeritus of Urbandale, a fully licensed assisted living facility that has faced numerous sanctions from the state in the past 18 months.  At one point, the Urbandale facility’s on-call registered nurse was a company official who lived in Urbana, Ill., a six-hour drive away.

One employee of the Urbandale facility allegedly admitted to inspectors that she had destroyed a patient’s medical records and then created new, fictional reports to conceal the fact that a dying resident’s children had to administer medication to their parent on several occasions because no nurse was available in the facility.

The Urbandale home has also been cited for housing a violent individual who assaulted and sexually fondled other residents over a period of several days until police were called and he was escorted from the building.

 

 Ken Teegardin had a traumatic time finding care for his father in Georgia so he created his own website (http://www.AssistedSeniorLiving.net) with the goal of presenting the widest variety of senior care options (especially nursing homes) with objective information.

He has spent a lot of his personal time compiling a comprehensive list of senior care options so that others will have better support than he did when he had to make the critical decision.  The site is:
– The most comprehensive senior directory on the web. Users can search by care type, location, organization name, review status and more.
– Totally unbiased. The directory is based on government data combined with other independent sources. It is NOT a paid-inclusion corporate site so every senior care organization gets fair exposure.

The site features:
– Location based search – His advanced Geo-location search shows the nearest 50 senior care options to any desired location based on a zip code, city, or street address. Click on the map and get instant driving directions to each option.
– Hot lists – Users can build a custom list of possible services and print that list with full contact information.
– Complete listing information – We provide full contact information, photos, costs, and other details (where available) so users can compare apples to apples.
– Safe usage – There is no data taken about users. The goal of the site is share information, not to gather sales leads.
– Reviews – The site includes both positive and negative reviews.

AssistedSeniorLiving also donates $1 to non-profit senior care organizations for every review created.