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FTC charges two online senior care placement services with misrepresentation

September 18, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged two Internet-based companies with allowing consumers in search of long-term care placement assistance to believe that the companies researches the facilities it recommends. The settlements prohibit CarePatrol, Inc., and ABCSP, Inc. (Always Best Care) from making false or making unsubstantiated statements about their services in the future. The proposed orders apply for at least the next 20 years.

Complaints against CarePatrol indicated that the company claims to monitor the care history and violations of nearly all of the assisted living facilities (ALFs) in a consumer’s geographic area and that it grades and monitors these facilities based on their most recent state inspection report. With franchises in 12 states, Care Patrol also claims a network of senior care consultants in each state.

A second FTC complaint was filed against ABCSP, Inc. (Always Best Care), which operates a national network of franchises. The complaint alleges that the company misrepresented its services and that its recommendations for ALFs and residential care homes in different geographic areas are based on personal knowledge of its staff or agents in those areas.

In an FTC release, David Vladeck, director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated: “Senior citizens need honest information when they’re considering long-term care options. Companies that claim to know which facilities to recommend to consumers need to back up their claims or they will hear from the FTC.”

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Comments

These are serious claims against these two companies and I wonder how they get away with making these kinds of promises to elders and, more importantly, how did their misstatements get uncovered? Assisted living facilities are not regulated like nursing homes, so have they developed their own "state inspection reports", setting up their own standards of good, better, best? This article is unclear about exactly how they "monitor and grade" ALF's. Regardless, given the confusing maze of options facing seniors these days, the last thing families need are bogus misstatements and untrustworthy advice.

Actually Assisted Living facilities are highly regulated. They are not nursing facilities, so compliance criteria is different, it is based on the services they provide. The best facilities strive to be in compliance all the time (not just when they are due for survey). The State of Oregon posts the results of all facility surveys online for public viewing. In addition to checking compliance, consumers be should looking at the facilities reputation, this one area that speaks for itself, because it is based on resident, family & staff experience.
Jacine VanAtta
Executive Director
Willamette Manor Assisted Living
Lebanon Oregon

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