Tag Archives: elders

Calif. center, ethnic outlets partner to examine elderly day care’s demise

The California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting partnered with no fewer than nine different organizations to produce a sprawling story package examining the impact of the looming closure of many of California’s adult day health care centers. (Since the project launched, California reached a legal settlement that will allow adults most at risk of institutionalization to continue to receive services previously provided by adult day health centers. Existing centers will be able to provide services through the end of Feb. 2012. See this write-up in California Healthline.)

Jocelyn Wiener’s centerpiece stands alone, but the package really gains steam when you take the time to consider its full breadth and depth.

For those new to the issue, here’s Wiener’s primer and a hint as to why the package grew out of a collaboration with a kaleidoscope of ethnic media organizations.

Los Angeles County – especially its many ethnic minority communities –will be hit hardest by the closures. According to state data, the county is home to more than 60 percent of the program’s 38,000 enrollees statewide. One quarter have dementia. Forty percent are incontinent. Nearly half have a psychiatric diagnosis. More than 70 percent do not speak English.

The centers provide them with transportation, meals, exercise, medication management, physical and occupational therapy, as well as robust social programs that many participants say have renewed their will to live.

Health journalists will find Richard Kipling’s “how we did it” piece to be a natural entry point. Kipling unspools the narrative of how a brief suggestion became an anything-but-brief compendium of multilingual, multicultural, multigenerational reporting. Kipling’s blog also serves as a useful roadmap to the project.

Watch the AHCJ website for more about how this project was reported.

If the video doesn’t appear on your page, please click through to :Bibiana Viernes: Her Center, Her Life” from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

Minority population swells in nursing homes

In The Providence Journal, reporter and AHCJ board member Felice Freyer reports on the local effects of the national trend toward higher proportions of minority residents in nursing homes. In addition to the logistical concerns raised by this demographic shift, Freyer also explores what it says about health disparities and access to care in minority communities.

Faces of agingFreyer’s report is built on a Brown University study published in the July edition of Health Affairs. As you may know, free access to Health Affairs is one of the many benefits that come with your AHCJ membership.

… between 1999 and 2008, the number of Hispanics and Asians living in U.S. nursing homes grew by 54.9 percent and 54.1 percent, respectively, while the number of whites dropped 10.2 percent.

These numbers reflect the changing demographic profile of elderly people, whose ranks include growing numbers of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. But the researchers say their findings also raise questions about whether minority-group members have poorer access to assisted-living and community-based care. The question may be especially relevant as states such as Rhode Island strive to “rebalance” the long-term system to favor home-based care over institutional care.

Freyer’s story also includes data from Brown’s LTCfocus.org site, a handy tool for sorting and visualizing data related to long term care and nursing homes.

Washington’s “adult homes” have less regulation, more neglect

After analyzing 4,703 death certificates of folks who died at adult homes during a five-year span, The Seattle Times‘ Michael Berens found “at least 236 deaths that indicate neglect or abuse in these homes but were not reported to the state or investigated.”

In a sidebar, he explains that Times staff searched for cases that indicated neglect or low quality of care, and that the journalists’ careful standards and reliance on death certificates (none of which involved autopsies) means their estimate is likely on the low end.

There are almost 3,000 adult homes in Washington State. In the past decade, they’ve earned the state a national reputation for elder care innovation, but also opened a gaping hole in the regulatory fabric, as Berens has reported previously. On the whole, they’re billed as cheaper and more neighborhood-like than nursing homes. They’re also less regulated and, Berens found, more likely to fatally neglect patients. Here are his numbers:

… adult-home deaths indicating neglect occur at strikingly higher rates than comparable deaths at nursing homes:

  • Pressure-sore deaths in adult homes occur at a rate more than 3.5 times higher.
  • The rate of deaths from falls is four times higher.
  • For choking deaths, the rate is 15 times higher.

Beyond the highlights, Berens’ piece is exhaustively researched, and most definitely required reading for anyone reporting from one of the dozens of states seeking to emulate Washington’s adult home system.

Covering the Health of Local Nursing HomesSlim guide:

Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes

Check out AHCJ’s latest volume in its ongoing Slim Guide series. This reporting guide gives a head start to journalists who want to pursue stories about one of the most vulnerable populations – nursing home residents. It offers advice about Web sites, datasets, research and other resources. After reading this book, journalists can have more confidence in deciphering nursing home inspection reports, interviewing advocacy groups on all sides of an issue, locating key data, and more. The book includes story examples and ideas.

AHCJ publishes these reporting guides, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to help journalists understand and accurately report on specific subjects.

AHCJ resources

Other resources

Kleyman launches Generations Beat Online

When we posted back in January that, after 20 years at the American Society on Aging, journalist Paul Kleyman was joining New America Media, he hoped to reconstitute his Age Beat Online newsletter.

Paul Kleyman (Photo: Frank Klein)

Paul Kleyman (Photo: Frank Klein)

Well, he has instead launched “Generations Beat Online, the e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations.”

GBO includes information about news briefings, tips on sources and more. It will carry pieces about emerging views and resources on long-term care and caregiving by AHCJ member Eileen Beal.

Kleyman is associate director of the Ethnic Elders Newsbeat at NAM, so you can find news about ethnic elders and an elder news roundup on the site.

To subscribe, e-mail Kleyman at pkleyman@newamericamedia.org.