Gaps in information about the quality of services provided by assisted living facilities formed the focus of a recent government report. While researchers acknowledge that ALF care can be compassionate and of high quality, the report states that the government lacks “even basic information” about assisted living care. This leads to the question of whether increased reporting requirements should be established.

GAO findings

The report from the Government Accountability Office pointed to glaring holes in essential information about the manner in which assisted living facilities are regulated. Each state is supposed to document assisted living cases involving the neglect, abuse or unexplained deaths of residents. However, researchers found that more than half of the states in the country do not provide accurate information. The 22 states that did reported almost 23,000 cases of abuse or neglect in the period of one year. The report went on to state that many of the victims were older people who had physical or mental disabilities, such as dementia.

Increasing demand for facts

According to the GAO, the demand for assisted living services is only going to increase due to our aging population and longer life expectancy. Along with that comes an increase in the demand for facts about the care and well-being of assisted living facility occupants. While Congress has established standards for nursing homes, the assisted living industry has largely escaped scrutiny and the accompanying regulations that might result. The GAO report shows, for example, that the federal government lacks comprehensive information about residents who are Medicaid beneficiaries, since the assisted living industry was not included in the original insurance program.

Many rules and regulations

An attorney experienced with elder law will tell you that there are many state and federal laws governing the care of older people who reside in both nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Family members, however, are often concerned about the quality of care their loved ones receive. So is the federal government, which is why experts are currently studying the need for additional reporting requirements in the quest for eliminating incidents of abuse and neglect.