San Diego County creates its own assisted living review site

About one in eight people living in San Diego County is age 65 or older, and one group wants to make sure they have accurate, reliable information to choose a safe, high-quality assisted living community.

County leaders and the nonprofit Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform joined efforts to create the Choose Well website, an online resource for consumers to research and compare assisted living communities. Right now participation is voluntary, but about 120 of the 600 communities in the county have already agreed to take part. Organizations that agree to be assessed will receive a seal to display and may appear more proactive to consumers, the site’s organizers say.

Site visitors can research a community’s size, prices and care services. The quality scoring on the site is based on 11 quality measures chosen by a committee that included area assisted living providers:

  • Activities and socialization
  • Emergency/disaster planning
  • Facility maintenance and safety
  • Food and nutrition
  • Noncompliance/deficiency status
  • Resident rights
  • Staffing
  • Civil penalities
  • Specialty care
  • Basic resident care and supervision
  • Medical needs and responsiveness

The idea for the site was fueled by a longstanding problem with elder abuse and neglect cases in the county. At least 27 seniors have died in the county in the past five years, notes a San Diego Union Tribune article. The public outrage over the resident deaths and the lack of oversight and punishment for poor quality assisted living conditions gradually led to several legislative changes and other programs to help families put safety and quality care first.

“No system with numbers is perfect, but we think this is a pretty good one,” says Tim Frazier, chief administrator for St. Paul’s Senior Services, one of the members of the site’s design committee, in the Union Tribune article. “These days, on the internet, we all know that nothing gets purchased, nothing gets accessed, without ratings. We believe in transparency, and we think that we ought to represent ourselves warts and all.”


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