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.

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9 responses to “Nursing Home Ads Pose As Official State Advice”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Well, it’s in keeping with a move to privatizing, no? I’m sure you can trace the handoff in the links from State to State-funded to free ad page directly to a series of budget cuts.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Interesting supposition. Do you have anything to back it up?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Sadly, I don’t. But, you’ve surely seen this before. You cannot have spent 30 years in the Navy and have not seen four contractors replace two civil servants who were doing a job that a sailor used to do. Oh, wait. That’s a ballooning budget.

        COTS. That’s the ticket. Commercial Off-The-Shelf. It’s just that nobody did quality control until you.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Was that a rant against 8(a)’s?

  2. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Posting the ratings that taxpayers fund would be a very good thought indeed. Haven’t we pretty much assumed that old people still living are diminished in capacity? The scam didn’t count on more baby boomers living longer and healthier, not to mention wiser about the internet and government. Good job Mr. Sherlock!

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Thank you. I sent a note to the key players at the state level and at the non-profit that included a link to this article. I hope they will make the change. It is an easy one. It will be hard to explain avoiding doing so.

  3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I agree with your that an agency that is supposed to be providing help to seniors would be helping senior and their families a lot if it included the Medicare ratings in its listing of nursing homes. I suspect that it does not do this is a reflection of the general reluctance of state agencies to recommend a private vendor over another. To do so could lead to charges of favoritism, political or otherwise. However, to list nursing homes as if they are all equal and to allow the nursing homes themselves to write their own descriptions constitutes a disservice to the very senior citizens the agency is supposed to be helping

    1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
      Kathleen Smith

      Anyone can view the DSS quality star ratings and view findings for social services visits for all licensed day care centers. Let’s hope VDOE doesn’t muck it up now that it is in their bailiwick.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Your point about state agencies not wishing to favor individual businesses is as usual thoughtful.

      As you indicate, this is a special case, however.

      The Virginia Department of Health conducts the inspections and delivers the findings that form the basis for the Medicare ratings. For DARS to publish a guide to nursing homes targeted at seniors without those star ratings constitutes dereliction.

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