Successful new ancillary service for long-term care operators? No, a bad trick

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

It is no secret that long-term care operators and other senior care providers love a good, money-making ancillary service to take care of their residents and firm up the bottom line. That's one reason why hot nursing home “news” out of Britain this week might have actually had some long-term care stakeholders excited at first blush.

After all, sex sells and what care provider doesn't want to have satisfied residents?

The tale, which was published in at least a handful of noteworthy news outlets (and more less-celebrated ones) went something like this:

Posh nursing and rehab center Chaseley Trust was so intent on meeting its residents' needs, it didn't stop at supplying a gymnasium, movie theater and billiards table. It also supposedly invited strippers and prostitutes into the facility regularly.

Besides seeking to honor disadvantaged residents' “needs,” staff members reportedly liked the service because it could defuse grabby patients who might otherwise grope them. A healthy, “holistic” approach to caring for their residents is how Chaseley managers supposedly characterized it.

Published reports did not come off as outright bogus. Some dutifully told how a local political group wanted to investigate — for the good of the residents, of course. Some worried that the practice might be unethical, or worse. And, oh yes, the situation also was said to set off a national dialogue about disabled individuals' human rights.

The only problem is, Chaseley Trust disputes the reports vehemently. In an open letter to “all stakeholders and supporters” it blames the spread of bogus information on a local news report that was published Monday and subsequently spread like wildfire.

“Claims in the article – which contained numerous misrepresentations and misquotations – relating to the facilitation of prostitutes are quite simply untrue,” the letter says. It goes on to say that Chaseley lawyers are looking into legal action against news outlets that wrote or spread the bawdy details as fact.

Make no mistake: The facility's statement makes it clear that its managers strive to answer their residents' needs. But, they say, they would never resort to illegal means to do so.

Where do we start and stop with the potential discussion topics here? How far should a facility be able to go to help a resident in search of physical satisfaction? Just what “human rights” does a long-term care resident or disabled person have — especially when sex comes into the equation?

And perhaps most prominent to providers everywhere: How the heck do we make sure salacious stories like this never get started about us?

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.