Choose Well - The County's Voluntary Rating System for Assisted Living
On 1 August, 2017, San Diego County made it official: Choose Well is now a recognized public program!
Following the UT San Diego's 2014 "Deadly Neglect" series of articles exposing assisted living issues and conditions in San Diego County, the County Board of Supervisors, spearheaded by Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox, authorized a 3.5 year program to develop a rating system and to launch a website which would host Facility Profiles of assisted living facilities who had volunteered to have their state compliance history rated and made public on the website. Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR) is the contractor for this important consumer tool.
As of 8/1/2017, there were 117 recruited providers among the 600+ licensed assisted living facilities in San Diego County - or about 20% of the County's inventory. 80% of the recruited volunteer providers have licensed capacity of 6 beds or fewer. Providers who volunteer to have their state compliance history rated (called a Choose Well score) must also agree to have the Choose Well score made public on the website. The Choose Well Scoring Device is a complex algorithm using the state's Title 22 regulations which have been categorized into the County's 11 Quality Measures.
Choose Well is distinctive among the many rating schemes for assisted living facilities offered by for-profit online placement and referral services: Choose Well's scores are based on factual data taken directly from the California's Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing's transparency site. Choose Well scores are not based on perceptions of luxury, on facility marketing literature, or payments for giving the facility high marks. Just on the facts. The methodology is transparent and available for all to read and understand.
Choose Well is a unique and innovative program using technology and public records data to help connect families needing assisted living services with providers offering those services. The program is free to all users: consumers and providers alike. Licensed assisted living providers in San Diego County can volunteer for the program, and are subject only to their willingness to be transparent, and to the program's minimum eligibility requirements. To learn more about the Choose Well program, visit http://www.choosewellsandiego.org At that site, and using the Facility Search tab, you can search for any facility in San Diego County. Search filters include capacity, zip code, city, and whether the facility is a Choose Well volunteer. A unique feature of the program is that multiple facilities can be compared side-by-side, allowing the consumer to quickly assess candidate facilities.
As with all rating systems or scores, it's important for consumers to remember that a score or a rating is simply an indicator. The indicator isn't a silver bullet for making the right placement, but instead offers consumers one element of objective information they can add to the mix of evaluation criteria. Shopping for an assisted living placement isn't easy, but the County is hoping the Choose Well tool becomes a trusted source of objective information about assisted living services available in San Diego County.