Assisted Living Facilities Admit Patients with Higher Acuity in an Attempt to Compete with Nursing Homes

Assisted living facilities are quickly becoming the nursing homes of the future. The National Center for Assisted Living reports that over 36,000 licensed assisted living facilities exist nationwide with an estimated 1 million residents. However, because there is no universal definition for assisted living facilities, this number may not adequately portray the prevalence of these facilities. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures acknowledged in 2002 that the assisted living market is one of the fastest growing long-term care options for older adults; seniors in assisted living facilities who receive Medicaid benefits has increased almost 50% in the past few years.

Unfortunately, these facilities are known to aggressively market and accept residents by promising staffing levels or services that they, in reality, do not provide. In an effort to compete with nursing homes, assisted living facilities are recruiting patients with higher acuity. Major chains often promote special Alzheimer’s Disease Units, and are accepting patients with severe loss of cognitive function. The reality is that many of these facilities’ staffing levels are far below those of nursing homes and simply are unable to meet the needs of the higher acuity residents. The consequence is that residents nationwide are suffering significant injuries because of the neglect and abuse occurring in these facilities.