Misleading Claims of Eldercare Consultants
The websites of CarePatrol, based in Gilbert, Ariz., and
ABCSP (which also operates under the name Always Best Care), based in
Roseville, Calif. claimed their employees had detailed, personal knowledge
about the assisted-living homes. But the FTC says they didn’t and, as a result,
misled consumers about their expertise and knowledge. While not admitting
wrongdoing, both businesses have settled the FTC’s charges, promising not to
make false or unsubstantiated claims for the next 20 years, states Forbes Magazine
According to the FTC complaint, CarePatrol claimed on its
site that it graded “each and every facility” from A to F, based on the latest
state survey. The company also said that its local senior care consultants
“pre-screen every home we recommend,” looking “beyond the chandeliers and fancy
lobbies to monitor each community’s care history and state violations so we can
recommend the safest options for your loved ones.” In truth, the FTC said, the
company didn’t monitor or grade any facilities in most states and didn’t have
senior care consultants in every state it operates in.
Similarly, ABCSP said it “visits or evaluates most every
facility” in the markets it operates to match the person in need of care “with
the top three or four most appropriate living options based upon individual
needs, custom screening and available budgets.” But the FTC said ABSCP’s
placements aren’t based on its employees’ personal knowledge of all the
facilities “or a substantial majority” in a given area. Since there are at
least 39,000 assisted-living facilities in the United States and thousands more
smaller, residential care homes, claiming to know all the senior facilities in
the country would be nearly impossible.
Two Lessons From the FTC
If you need to weigh living and care options for your
parents, the FTC action offers two lessons.
First, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.” You
should be leery of all promotional claims made by eldercare consultants and
check them out. Don’t believe any promise of a quick and easy solution to
finding the right facility for your parents.
The second lesson: Don’t rely on a single source when
selecting a facility.
Lots of consumers want a quick solution for finding the right
place for their parents,” says David Spiegel, an FTC attorney who was the lead
attorney in the CarePatrol and ABCSP cases. “Unfortunately, you have to use
more than one tool if you want to be in a real comfort zone when you place your
loved one in any eldercare facility.”