Senior-Care Referral Site “A Place for Mom” Stays Mum on Neglect

Senior-Care Referral Site “A Place for Mom” Stays Mum on NeglectThe decision to move a family member into a nursing home is one of the hardest most children have to make for their parents. To help ensure the process goes well, many people turn to websites like “A Place for Mom” to find out the details, including answering the most pressing question that adult children want to know: “Is my parent going to be safe there?”

The website offers reviews and detailed information about many of the facilities available throughout the country. Unfortunately, those ratings may be somewhat limited. A Washington Post article recently found that A Place for Mom is not being truthful about neglect. The study found that, in some states, nearly a third of the locations most recommended nursing homes were cited for providing substandard care to patients. The fact is, A Place for Mom may advertise itself as a “trusted advisor,” but it’s actually a referral service paid by assisted living facilities, and those locations do not share all of their records (nor does A Place for Mom actually seek out full disclosure of all of the risks the locations may offer).

Per the Post, the nursing home facilities may receive a “Best of Senior Living” recognition or award as a way of honoring those who are supposed to offer exemplary care and support to aging loved ones. However, this award is allegedly given out based on user reviews. The Washington Post article also states that “Current and former staff of some large chains told The Post that these reviews are often manipulated by the care providers; some claimed they were encouraged to obtain fake reviews from their own friends and relatives.”

Nursing homes are buying their way to the top of the list

A Place for Mom is easy to use and, according to its operators, provides help for about 700,000 people around the country every year looking to find a place for their family members to live. But their recommendations are worrisome.

The Post article shares that one location that won a “best of” award in Florida actually had a resident die after spending over an hour unattended outdoors in 100.4-degree weather. Another revealing bit of insight came from a review of a California-based nursing home that also made the “Best of Senior Living” list for both 2023 and 2024. Yet, the health department inspector found 23 of its 41 properties had serious health violations, including bedsores, medication errors, misconduct by employees, and hazardous exposure, including to rats.

The evidence is in the details

A Place for Mom creates the illusion that these nursing homes are actually the very best of the best, researched and well understood, and safe places to be. Yet, that is not the experience many have. Judy Bottum, whose family member died in a Michigan facility, told the Post she used such reviews and ratings to make the decision of where to place her family member. She looked at the site’s 37 five-star reviews as a good sign. But an inspection by the State found that Judy’s family member had not received a single shower in the last month of her life and that no staff member elevated her hospital bed to provide relief from her flu symptoms. They gave her no medication and did not even tell the family until the family member was close to dying.

How to choose a nursing home for a family member

There are a lot of websites that claim to provide accurate reviews of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. As lawyers who represent individuals and families in lawsuits and class actions against nursing homes, we know firsthand that you can’t always believe what you read. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a nursing home:

  • You cannot trust that what you read online is 100% accurate or thorough. You have to do your own research as well as visit locations, ask the hard questions of residents, and get insight into the reality of each location. We also recommend you check gov’s inspection reports for nursing homes and facilities. Unlike online referral companies like A Place for Mom, there is no financial incentive to promote unsafe or dangerous facilities.
  • You have to be there. To really protect your family members, show up whenever you can. Make sure you are present enough to monitor their care. If you cannot physically be there, speak with friends and loved ones who can, and ask them to help you by showing up to visit, and by checking on your loved one.
  • When there is evidence of neglect or wrongdoing, act. That is more than just contacting the head nurse or reporting it to the administration. Go to the local health department. Call your Long-Term Care Ombudsman. And if that doesn’t help, get your loved one out of the facility and call us immediately.

When there is a risk like this, your family member’s well-being and future are on the line. In situations where your family member has suffered injuries through neglect or abuse, the most important step you can take at that moment is to seek out immediate help from a nursing home abuse attorney.

If you or your loved one suffered due to nursing home abuse, seek out immediate legal support. Our lawyers offer comprehensive legal support for those facing countless losses in difficult situations. Let us help you hold them accountable. The nursing home attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere are dedicated to providing residents and families with exceptional legal support. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. As a national firm, our offices are in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Long Beach, Louisville, and New Orleans.