Alarming is the word we can use to define the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice-funded study by Hawes and Kimbell that examined state processes for detecting, investigating, resolving and preventing elder abuse in Residential Care Facilities.
This study focused on detection, investigation, and resolution of elder abuse and neglect complaints in what are known as residential care facilities (RCFs). These facilities are the most rapidly growing form of senior housing. This growth is a result both of the preferences of the elderly and their families and of public policy aimed at reducing nursing home use. RCFs are referred to by a variety of names across the states, including assisted living facilities, personal care homes, domiciliary care homes, adult congregate living facilities, adult care homes, and shelter care homes. The best estimate is that some 50,000 facilities nationwide house a mainly older population in between 900,000 and one million beds. In addition, an unknown number of unlicensed homes house a mixed population of poor older persons and individuals with mental illness. By contrast, there are about 17,000 nursing homes with 1.6 million residents.
The researchers found a lack of adequate resources in all states and all agencies, as well as deeply flawed processes. The report highlights smart practices by Ombudsmen and identifies policy suggestions, training needs, and research recommendations.