Vultures and the smell test

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
So I'm listening to the radio the other day when a friendly but serious voice starts in.

First he talks about how putting a loved one in a nursing home is a gut-wrenching choice. Then in his most reassuring tone, he offers the comforting advice that at least nursing home ratings can be checked on a government-run website.

But that's all just a prelude to the kill shot: If you are dissatisfied or concerned about the care your loved one might be receiving, why don't you give his law firm a call? Lovely.

Yes, it's now completely legal for barristers to solicit business. And, yes, people who have been on the receiving end of substandard care deserve the most aggressive legal representation they can find. I don't have a problem with lawyers — or anybody else for that matter — holding the bad actors accountable. Frankly, the sooner the lousy nursing homes are put out of business, the better.

That said, there's something really oily going on here. And what it boils down to is this: There's a big difference between fixing a problem and causing more problems while claiming to fix a problem.

So please don't patronize me about how you are just as concerned about the care my loved one is receiving. We both know what you're really after. It's all about the Benjamins, isn't it?

Frankly, I'd respect the guy and his law firm a lot more if they simply told a simple truth: Their goal is to make a boatload of money suing nursing homes. It may not be the most honorable way to make a living, but it's not illegal. And by all indications, it pays pretty well.

So if you're looking for others to join in your fishing expedition, have at it. But quit acting like you're doing anybody but yourself a favor. The helpful-guy facade is a lot like a urine-tinged facility: Both fail the smell test.


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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.