Protecting Seniors Against Unauthorized “Assisted Living” Operations

Elderly individuals need to be extra cautious when searching for assisted living facilities as there are unauthorized and potentially dangerous ones that can put their safety at risk. It is important to take the necessary steps to protect seniors from these dangers and help them choose an appropriate facility that meets their needs. If you are an adult child of a senior considering assisted living, there are six practical ways to protect your loved one against inadvertently connecting with unauthorized assisted living facilities:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your state’s regulations: Before choosing a facility, it is important to research the regulations in your state and ensure that the one you are considering is up-to-date with those requirements. Each state, including California, has its own set of rules regarding the operation of assisted living facilities, such as health code requirements, fire safety standards, and other rules regarding the overall quality of care the facility provides. Knowing these regulations will help ensure that seniors choose a safe facility for themselves or their loved one.
  2. Research local organizations: Many non-profit organizations exist that track and report on senior care services within an area, including those related to assisted living facilities. These organizations can provide helpful information about specific facilities, including their licensing status, services offered, and past complaints from consumers. Take advantage of this resource to gain valuable insight into any facility before deciding whether or not to move in.
  3. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions while touring potential assisted living facilities—it is important to understand what services they offer and what kind of care they provide to make an informed decision about which one is right for you or your loved one. Be sure not just to inquire regarding staff experience levels but also ask if they have ever been reported, fined, or disciplined by regulatory bodies may have helpful information as well.
  4. Read reviews online: Check online review sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews for feedback from former residents and their families about how satisfied they were with their stays at different assisted living facilities. While some negative reviews may be exaggerated or biased, reading through multiple accounts should give you a good idea of how various assisted living communities operate in practice. You will want to attempt to identify any potentially concerning practices which could leave vulnerable seniors open to exploitation from malicious actors operating within them or under false pretenses outside of them.
  5. Visit unannounced: It’s always wise to visit the prospective facility before committing yourself or your loved one long-term. If possible, try visiting without prior notice to get an accurate sense of how well staff members interact with residents daily (as opposed to having staff members on their best behavior due to advanced warnings). Ask plenty of questions and take note of anything out-of-the-ordinary during your visit; these observations could provide useful insight into whether or not it would be a safe environment for you or your loved one should they decide to move in permanently.
  6. Know whom you’re dealing with: In addition to researching potential businesses directly involved with providing senior care services (eldercare professionals), it’s also important to check out any third parties who may be involved. These can include many vendors and others who have regular connections with a particular assisted living community.

Overview of Regulation of Assisted Living in California

Assisted living facilities in California are subject to the regulations and standards set forth by the Department of Social Services or DSS. These standards were established to ensure that all residents receive quality care, a safe environment, and comfortable accommodations.

All assisted living facilities must be licensed by DSS. All staff members must pass a background check before working with seniors or other vulnerable populations. Facilities must also adhere to certain staffing requirements, including having at least one staff member onsite to provide direct care, supervision, and assistance.

In addition, assisted living facilities must comply with California’s fire safety codes and building standards for healthcare settings to protect occupants and visitors. This includes having functional smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and emergency evacuation plans in place.

Assisted living facilities are also required to provide basic services, such as meals, housekeeping, laundry assistance, social activities, and assistance with personal care tasks like dressing and bathing when necessary. Facilities can also offer specialized services like medication management or Alzheimer’s-specific programming if they choose to do so.

The state of California requires that all assisted living facilities have an appointed administrator responsible for overseeing the facility’s day-to-day operations and ensuring that it remains compliant with state regulations. Additionally, administrators must keep accurate records concerning each resident’s health status and progress and any changes made in policies or procedures within the facility itself.

As part of their commitment to providing quality care for residents of assisted living facilities in California, DSS works closely with these entities by conducting regular inspections to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Inspectors examine physical conditions that include:

  • Cleanliness
  • Review staff credentials
  • Check the availability of supplies
  • Assess records
  • Verify that appropriate fire safety protocols are being followed
  • Inspect food service areas for safety
  • Interview staff members about their experiences working at the facility
  • Evaluate resident satisfaction surveys
  • Investigate complaints
  • Review financial reports detailing revenue sources and expenditures related to providing care services for residents

Finally, residents or family members can recourse if they feel an assisted living facility has provided inadequate care or has violated any applicable laws or regulations set forth by DSS. This includes reports of suspected “assisted living” facilities operating illegally.

In the grand scheme of things, by being aware of the information provided in this article, you will be in the best position to protect yourself and your senior parent from unlawful operators posing as assisted living communities. You will be on track to finding an ideal assisted living community that meets your needs or those of your senior parent.