Deadly Neglect (Part I)
Fatal cases at assisted living facilities raise questions about tough family choices, limited state oversight

About this project

Hundreds of San Diego County seniors have suffered serious injuries at assisted living homes that promised comfort and safety for their waning years. And at least 27 seniors in the county have died from injuries and neglect while in the facilities. Their deaths reveal critical failures – both public and private – in a system responsible for their well-being.

Part II here. Part III here.


Advice on searching for a facility

Choosing an assisted living facility can be daunting. Some tips to make the search easier.

Advocates say ‘we’re doing what the state should be doing’

Chris Murphy and Chrisy Selder know many of the sordid details by memory. Most Saturdays, they meet at their Hillcrest area office, brew strong cups of Peet’s coffee and go to work investigating local assisted living homes.

CARR: The advocates

Video interview with members of Consumer Advocates for RCFF Reform (CARR).

Deadly neglect at some San Diego County assisted living facilities

Hundreds of seniors in San Diego County have suffered broken bones, deadly bed sores, sexual assaults and other injuries at assisted living homes that promised them care and safety in their waning years, state regulatory records show.

Emeritus: The caregiver

Video interview with Shayna Ronan, VP of operations at Emeritus Properties.

Grandson’s aim is to change system

Hazel Mensching died on Feb. 13, six days after tumbling from her wheelchair during a van tour operated by her assisted living facility.

Joel Bryant: The consumer attorney

Video: Joel Bryant discusses liability and elderly care.

Judith Kohl: The family

Video: The family of Judith Kohl discusses the elderly woman's situation.

Paul Greenwood: The deputy D.A.

Video interview with Paul Greenwood discussing elderly abuse.

Payoffs alleged at assisted living centers

State officials received a complaint in 2007 alleging that residents at the Ambassador Senior Retreat, an assisted living home in Mira Mesa, were overmedicated and underfed and that the food they were served was not healthy.

Voices for the Silenced

Video of the silenced and their advocates in the ongoing story of elder abuse in San Diego.

Investigation reveals fatal neglect in San Diego assisted living facilities

A six-month investigation by U-T San Diego and the Center divulges sobering information about the treatment of senior citizens in assisted living homes.

Crimes go uninvestigated at assisted living homes

Elder abuse, sexual assault and other acts regularly go uninvestigated as crimes at assisted living homes across California, as the facilities fall into a jurisdictional haze in which the first response is often administrative sanctions.

Surprised and appalled, legislators pledge assisted living reforms

California lawmakers pledged to increase penalties and boost inspections in response to "Deadly Neglect," a three-day series published this week by U-T San Diego that showed serious deficiencies in the state's assisted-living homes.

How the Deaths Were Counted

The California Department of Social Services, or DSS, is responsible for licensing and inspecting assisted living homes, known as Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, or RCFEs.  

Senator to call hearing on assisted living after Center/U-T investigation finds abuses

A key panel of the California Legislature will hold an oversight hearing this winter to probe problems in the state’s assisted living homes for the elderly and seek solutions, its chairman said.

12 assisted living bills announced

Responding to deaths and abuses in California’s assisted living homes, state legislators on Monday announced a dozen bills aimed at boosting care for the elderly and sharpening state enforcement at more than 7,000 such facilities.

Specific care-home reform proposals

The following bills were proposed Monday to overhaul residential care facilities for the elderly, or RCFEs.


Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch

Senior writer Deborah Schoch reports on hospitals and health care delivery, nursing homes, environmental health and food. Her most recent articles have examined patient safety andhospital infections. She was a founding writer with the Center’s pilot project. Schoch spent 18 years as a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, covering public health and the environment. She was a member of the Times newsroom teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news in 1992 and 1994. Schoch graduated from Cornell University and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1999-2000, studying science, law and policy. Her work at the Center has won several honors, including first place in the 2010 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, from the Association of Health Care Journalists. She sits on the AHCJ board’s Right-to-Know Committee, which works to improve access to public health records.

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