Frontline presents skewed picture of assisted living, ALFA leader says

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Incidents of resident harm are “rare and isolated” in assisted living communities, and providers work closely with regulators and support transparency, the leader of the Assisted Living Federation of America said in response to a critical Frontline report that aired Tuesday night.

The hour-long documentary, "Life and Death in Assisted Living," was based on extensive reporting by Frontline and ProPublica journalists. It focused in particular on Emeritus Senior Living, the nation's largest AL provider. 

Emeritus faces a $23 million verdict in the case of Joan Boice, a resident who died in a California facility. The Frontline report delved into this case in-depth, in what it portrayed as a high-profile example of resident safety issues, a lack of staff training and systemic quality problems.

“The true story of assisted living won't be found in television programs like Frontline,” stated ALFA President and CEO Rick P. Grimes.

Citing positive resident satisfaction statistics, Grimes stressed that ALFA members work closely with regulators on the state level. Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO, agreed that states should be in charge of regulating assisted living, but he also cautioned that it should not be the only approach.

"Regulation that is done smartly, that promotes person-centered care, that promotes quality outcomes is great. But regulation that creates regimens, institutional-type settings, and really takes away from some of the benefits of assisted living would be a negative thing," Parkinson said in an interview with Frontline. The edited transcript of the interview can be seen here