What responsibility does an assisted living have to report problems to the resident's family members?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 14, 2016
Firstone asked...

My family recently found out after 4 full months of Dad being in Memory Care that he will have to be transferred because he is violent and sexually abusive. Besides the trauma of this news we are now wondering why Memory Care knew of this situation with my father (which they told us was like this since he went into Memory Care Day 1) and did not share or communicate this with any family member. We were told he was a gentleman, delightful to have etc. so it is great shock to know here the complete opposite. Is it not a responsibility of the facility to tell family members who are there once a week at least of any problems???

Expert Answers

Mary Koffend is the president of Accountable Aging Care Management (AACM), an eldercare consulting and care management firm that works with elder clients and their families to find the best care providers and services to meet their needs.

Communication between any facility and the family can be the source of great satisfaction and at times great frustration. Reporting problems with a resident to the family can be the most complex. Let's begin by looking at this situation from the perspective of the facility. When your dad moved in, staff at the facility had evaluated his needs and believed that they could provide the care for him. They continued to work with his behavioral issues and wanted to make his stay at the facility a success. Then likely one day at some meeting everyone realized that in spite of their efforts, nothing was working and that your dad was not safe at the facility and the staff at the facility was in jeopardy. From the family's perspective it would have been much better to be kept informed and not have waited until the experiment failed. It would have been valuable to have someone explain from the beginning the behavioral issues they were experiencing and engage the family in resolving some of the problems. A lesson learned for all families with a family member in the facility is to be involved in the evaluation before admission, and to stay very actively involved including periodically calling the social worker, administrator, and also to visit with staff when they visit. Is there any way to salvage this situation? Can you meet with the administrator and is there an option of hiring a private companion to assist with your dad at times his behavior is most problematic? Is your dad under the care of a geriatric psychiatrist or neurologist that could evaluate the circumstance and your dad's medications and serve as an advocate for you and your dad? Working to resolve this situation is very important because records follow residents and you may encounter problems with placement in the future. If your dad has moved to a new facility, be very proactive with any behavioral issues to avoid a reoccurrence.