Jones & Bartlett Learning Nursing Blog

    Questions Raised About "Free" Assistance Locating Care

    Posted by Katie Hennessy on May 16, 2012 6:01:03 PM

    Robert O'Toole

    Guest blogger, Robert O'Toole, President, Informed Eldercare Decisions, LLC, writes that,

    Some Nursing Homes and Home Care Agencies Are Being Asked to Pay Kickbacks to Web Sites Offering Referrals

    When the owner of a small assisted living facility in Florida asked for advice from the Executive Director of another facility about attracting more residents he told her told her he found new residents "the old-fashioned way": He paid for them.

    “You do realize that’s illegal,” she responded?

    According to an article in the Miami Herald, the Executive Director's response was that he had no choice.  He was forced, he said, to pay for admissions; otherwise he wouldn’t fill his beds.

    The Miami newspaper reported that both owners and advocates for residents said the practice of paying kickbacks to fill their homes was rampant throughout the state of Florida, even though so-called “patient brokering” has been illegal in Florida since 1996.

    A meeting of a statewide taskforce formed to investigate reports of substandard care was held at Florida International University in the fall of 2011. Task force members were heard revelations of squalor and abuse in assisted-living facilities across the state.

    The group — which includes owners, elder advocates and lawmakers appointed by Gov. Rick Scott — was created in May of 2011 after a Miami Herald series, "Neglected to Death", showed the state had allowed dozens of facilities to stay open, even after they had been caught abusing and neglecting residents to death.

    The series prompted a Miami-Dade grand jury to launch an investigation last month into conditions at facilities, including chronically troubled homes and shoddy state enforcement. One provider reported to the Commission that companies handling patient discharges for clinics will agree to place the patients in an ALF in exchange for secret payments.

    One facility owner said she has “known about [the practice] for a long time. People are afraid to say something. If you come forward, that avenue will be shut off, and you will have nobody in your facility.” The Herald reported.

    On the other side of the country, The Seattle Times published a series of articles last year exposing similar kickback schemes to those uncovered in Florida. According to the Seattle these often internet based companies "...have enticing names that communicate understanding in regard to finding a home for an aging parent -- names that use words like "mom," "help" and "care." They advertise expertise in the field of elder care, promising the assistance of "senior care specialists" or "personal family consultants." Best of all, they promise "FREE" advice in selecting appropriate long-term care arrangements, particularly for people whose needs are less than those of nursing home residents.

    According to the Seattle newspaper, “These companies, which fall under the catch-all category of long-term care referral services, are the cyberspace era's quick fix solution for the growing number of Americans seeking non-nursing home institutional care for their aging parents, relatives and significant others. Unfortunately, this purported expert assistance in navigating this bewildering world of assisted living is, at best, a hit-or-miss proposition.

    Senior-care Placement Companies Scramble to Cash In:

    Topics: Geriatric, Informed Eldercare Decisions, Robert O'Toole

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