Washington State cracks down on senior placement

If you’ve ever used a senior placement company to generate leads, you’ve probably found them to be professional and hassle-free, serving both your needs and the needs of the elder who is looking for an appropriate home. The online referral services generally work like this: the senior searches for a community, placement websites ask for that individual’s information, and a provider in the area is contacted with a lead. The placement is free for the senior—it’s the provider who pays the referrer, typically a portion of the resident’s first month’s rent or a subscription fee to the service.

Most of these online companies have good reputations and are used heavily by the largest of senior living chains nationwide. They have, however, been operating under the radar since their inception.

After a recent bout of bad press late last year, which found some companies do not screen facilities for serious violations before referring seniors, lawmakers in Washington State are ready to scrutinize.

The Seattle Times reported on Wednesday that a new law headed to Gov. Chris Gregoire will require senior placement companies to disclose to families and seniors when they conducted their most recent inspections of facilities. In addition, the law will force these companies to maintain at least $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

Washington is the first state to turn the screws on senior placement. And it most likely will not be the last. Once this type of legislation gains momentum nationally, expect senior placement companies to be brandished with a collective reputation far different than the one they currently enjoy, whether it is accurate or not. For now, it seems the state that houses the Apple Capital of the World is poised to spoil the bunch.

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