'Worse For Care': About This Series

Nov 27, 2019

Families who make the difficult decision to place an elderly relative in a residential care or assisted living home must then ask: Which home?

Vermonters entrust residents to 133 state-regulated facilities that can accommodate more than 3,000 residents. These places do not provide the level of care available in nursing homes and aren’t regulated as vigorously. Some are mom-and-pop operations; others have out-of-state corporate owners.

They market themselves as offering personalized care and a comfortable lifestyle. And some do.

But “Worse for Care,” a joint investigation by Vermont Public Radio and Seven Days, reveals that some seniors in these facilities live in challenging circumstances. To report our stories, we obtained five and a half years worth of complaints and state inspections, detailed in thousands of pages of documents.

The data show that seniors have wandered from homes, sometimes in the dead of Vermont winter. They’ve been given the wrong dosage of medicine and fed cheap, high-sodium foods. Seniors have been assaulted, exploited and treated in undignified ways by employees at some facilities.

We built a database to help us better understand how often homes are cited and what happens — and doesn’t — when they’re caught violating state regulations. We used it to inform our interviews with state regulators, families, advocates and care-home operators.

To assist consumers, we’re also launching our Vermont Eldercare Navigator. This database, searchable by facility name or location, lists the number of complaints against each home and contains complete inspection reports for both residential care homes and assisted living facilities.

VPR and Seven Days teamed up to share the workload and to make sure the stories reach the widest possible audience.

Look for our stories over the next three weeks.

Stories

Resources

The Team

VPR

  • Editor: Mark Davis
  • Reporter: Emily Corwin

SEVEN DAYS

  • Editors: Matthew Roy, Candace Page
  • Data Editor: Andrea Suozzo
  • Reporter: Derek Brouwer
  • Photographer: James Buck