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AARP: Arizona assisted living needs more transparency, accountability

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Alex Gonzalez

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(Arizona News Connection) AARP Arizona wants long-term care facilities in the state to do more to ensure the highest level of care for their residents, including being held accountable for any mishaps or deficiencies.

Brendon Blake, director of advocacy for AARP Arizona, said it is crucial for people in long-term care settings to be given the first-rate care and respect they deserve. In addition to the issues of neglect, staffing shortages and low wages often making the news, Blake noted there is a lack of accessible data about the facilities. 

"There's not a ton of data out there that is accessible to the public," Blake pointed out. "It is just hard to be a consumer in this space because there's not a lot of great data about what are great facilities and what are bad ones."

Blake emphasized AARP wants to see more accountability and transparency. He added if you, or someone you know, suspect mistreatment inside a senior living facility, it's important to contact your local long-term care ombudsman program. 

Blake stressed many Arizonans are left feeling frustrated and confused when they try to learn more about the state's long-term care facility options.

"It's complicated to begin with," Blake acknowledged. "Most people couldn't tell you the discernible difference between a skilled-nursing facility and an assisted living and what that could mean for their budget, because they don't know who pays for it."

Blake said AARP would like to see what he calls "better consumer tools," to enable people to find the best homes and let the market reward good providers, while bad providers would receive what he called "well-deserved criticism and punishment." He added his organization's advocacy work will continue into the new year.