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Cottage industry: Neglect and abuse in adult family homes

This week, Need to Know introduces a new segment. It reflects our commitment to investigate whether or not we’re being let down by those who are supposed to keep us safe and secure. Whether it’s the food industry, or those of energy, health, or our money — we’re keeping track of the consequences of decades of deregulation, of industries left largely to police themselves, but sometimes don’t. Watchdogs who don’t watch out for us. We’re calling the segment “The Watch List.”

This week, we bring you an example of what might fairly be described as an under-regulated industry: elder care. Thanks to legislation and entrepreneurship, senior citizens have more housing options than ever. There are nursing homes, assisted living centers, and the small private residences known as “adult family homes.” But with more choice, it seems there are also more problems. Last year the Seattle Times began investigating incidents of neglect and abuse at adult family homes. In cooperation with the Times we bring you their latest findings — out just this week — along with some information that suggests the problems with adult family homes go way beyond the State of Washington’s borders. Some of the images you’ll see may be upsetting.

Producer: Lucy Kennedy