Nursing Home Ads Pose As Official State Advice

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia state government has a Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. 

Who wouldn’t want one of those?  

But in the case of recommending nursing homes, it would be better if it would either stop or fix its broken system. Which it pays a nonprofit, VirginiaNavigator, to run.

It is offering nothing more than free, self-written advertisements for good and bad nursing homes alike under the guise of a state recommendation to seniors.

I easily qualify as aging. So I went to that Department’s website seeking advice on nursing homes. 

The home page routed me to the Office for Aging Services of the Division for Community Living.  

Now I was getting somewhere.

I went to that page, clicked on “Find local services” and it referred me to VirginiaNavigator, a state-supported nonprofit. Almost the last link I would need.

VirginiaNavigator linked me to its component SeniorNavigator which notes that it is “Celebrating 20 years of guiding Virginians.”

“In Virginia, there are thousands of programs and organizations that serve older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, caregivers and their families. You can find them all right here on VirginiaNavigator! (their exclamation point, certainly not mine)”

“We’re a statewide nonprofit that helps Virginians access the information and services they need, close to home.”

(Authors Note: the state could have screwed this up on its own without paying a nonprofit to do it.)

But, good to know. I dug right in.

Unfortunately, VirginiaNavigator lists all Virginia nursing homes and lets them write advertisements posing as a state information resource.  

Unsurprisingly, those ads fail to include Medicare rankings. Worse than zero value added, it instead confers a state imprimatur on good and bad nursing facilities alike.

Envoy of Williamsburg is a Medicare Special Focus Facility (really not good). It is currently the only SFF in the state. Take a look at the information I provide in the link. You will notice it has also been cited for abuse.

Envoy of Williamsburg is listed, dutifully, on SeniorNavigator. 

Part of the “review”:

“The nursing home offers quality care for physical and mental well being in a supportive home-like setting.”

Certainly helpful.

It would be even more helpful if the state and its go-to nonprofit published Medicare star ratings. They are very easy to access. 

After all, those ratings are anchored by the inspections conducted by Virginia Department of Health Office of Licensure and Certification professionals.

Perhaps the Northam Administration in its dying days could direct the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to convince SeniorNavigator to add Medicare ratings to those imaginative advertisements.

After all, there is already a “Quality” section of each advertisement just waiting.

Just a thought.