Frontline, ProPublica slam assisted living sector in documentary airing tonight

Loose regulations are endangering the growing number of assisted living residents in the United States, according to a new Frontline documentary that focuses on Emeritus Senior Living facilities. The program airs Tuesday at 10 P.M. EST, and is accompanied by a series of reports published this week on ProPublica.

The documentary, “Life and Death in Assisted Living,” traces the rise of the assisted living sector and Emeritus in particular, which since its founding in 1993 has grown into the country’s largest AL provider. Overall, the sector now serves about 750,000 residents.

However, insufficient regulations have turned the multi-billion dollar industry into “the rock we don’t want to look under,” according to the journalists who worked on the project — A.C. Thompson, Jonathan Jones and Carl Byker.

The reporters reviewed extensive Emeritus records, including more than 100 lawsuits filed against the company. They looked at every Securities and Exchange Commission filing since 1995, thousands of pages of state inspection records, 911 call records and internal company documents such as emails and budgets, according to ProPublica. They spoke with facility directors and other Emeritus employees, workers at other assisted living companies, academics, ombudsman and regulators. 

They also attended the trial in the case of Joan Boice, who died while residing at an Emeritus facility in California. The company faces a $23 million verdict in the case.

LeadingAge members can contact the organization’s vice president of communications for help fielding media inquiries generated by the documentary, the provider advocacy group said Monday.