Earlier this month, ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson and Jonathan Jones – in partnership with PBS Frontline - published a revealing expose on the assisted living industry and the largest provider of those facilities in the U.S. – Emeritus. The pair explained how and why the assisted living business has become so large, why the industry is loosely regulated by the states, and how Emeritus, in its quest for profits, endangered some residents by not providing enough qualified staff to care for them.
For the podcast, Thompson spoke to ProPublica editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg about assisted living and how they told the narrative through the eyes of one resident (Joan Boice) who was fatally injured while in an Emeritus home. When asked what types of fines the state of California levies against assisted living facilities, Thompson said, “What you see in California typically is if you have an incident that leads to real serious physical harm or the death of a resident, you will see a fine. And that fine will be – wait for it - $150. Every now and then, there’s multiple violations, so you might see $300. And you don’t get the sense that these fines are really having any sort of deterrent effect on the companies that are getting them.”
He continued, “In California, you are going to be in a lot more trouble if you abuse an animal than if you abuse or neglect a senior in one of these facilities – a human being.”