The PBS news show goes after assisted living and Emeritus, my thoughts ahead of the program.

Tomorrow night the PBS show, FRONTLINE takes a frontal shot at assisted living with a special focus on Emeritus Senior Living in a show titled “Life and Death in Assisted Living”.  

Along with the TV story there will be a five part print/web story that will be made available to newspapers for national publication. Part One:  Life and Death In Assisted Living:  The Emerald City is already up.  

Additional Links Leading Age:  July 30: PBS Frontline Will Air Program on Assisted Living How “Life and Death in Assisted Living” Was Reported Forbes – Don’t Miss PBS’ Assisted Living Exposé The Fiscal Times – Abuse and Neglect in Assisted Living Facilities ‘Frontline’ airing documentary over death at Ridgeland facility The Seattle Times – Documentary blasts Emeritus over dementia care  

The Forbes article starts with this quote:

“If you’re considering moving your parent into an assisted living facility or your mom or dad is one of the roughly 750,000 Americans already living in one, I implore you to watch Frontline’s powerful exposé . . .”

This story is a terrible thing for the assisted living and senior care industry.  I am particularly disappointed by the LeadingAge response (above), because it more or less throws the for-profit segment of the industry under the bus. In a very real sense LeadingAge is attempting to tell the world that this couldn’t happen in a not-for-profit senior community.  Something that is simply not true.  

So what will this story do . . .

  • It will hurt the whole assisted living industry, making people think twice about moving into assisted living.
  • It will make many seniors who already live in assisted living more fearful, more uncertain and more worried.
  • It will add more guilt to the families of those who have loved ones in assisted living.
  • It will give FRONTLINE a big ratings jump, which is what this is all about.

I talked to Mary Beth Dagg at Emeritus.  She said they have known it was coming a number of months.  She said they have done all they can to tell their side of the story with great transparency and candor.  In response to the story they have launched a new website titled Emeritus Facts, that right now addresses the story as they understand it and will be updated as needed after the story airs.

I also reached out to ALFA (Assisted Living Federation of America) and they sent me the results of the 2013 Assisted Living Resident Satisfaction Survey, that has incredibly positive results.  They will issue a response after the story airs.  


More reflections after the show airs tomorrow night.  But going into it some questions:

  • Do you think this is a big deal?
  • Do you think it will hurt the industry?
  • Do you see any silver linings in this story?

 Steve Moran

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