Death at CA facility after no CPR has some reviewing policies - WSMV Channel 4

Death at CA facility after no CPR has some reviewing policies

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BRENTWOOD, TN (WSMV) -

A woman who died at a California independent living facility after a nurse refused to provide CPR had chosen to live in a facility without medical staff and wanted to pass away without life-prolonging intervention, her family said Tuesday.

A company based in Brentwood - Brookdale Senior Living - owns the Glenwood Gardens facility where Lorraine Bayless died last week.

While at first, Brookdale Senior Living cited a policy which does not allow workers to provide medical care to residents, executives now say the staffer misunderstood the policy.

All of this remains under investigation, but for some it highlights a much bigger, and a more far-reaching issue, for countless families.

Glenwood Gardens provides "independent living" - as opposed to "assisted living" or "skilled nursing care" - which, for AARP Tennessee spokeswoman Tara Shaver, proves the point that families need to know the difference.

"Independent living is just that. It is independent," Shaver said. "It is like living in an apartment."

Most independent living facilities do not have licenses for medical care or policies to keep staffers from providing care.

For now, that remains the rule at Brookdale's facilities, though the company admitted the staffer in California may have misunderstood.

It already has other companies clarifying their rules. Elmcroft, which owns several facilities in Middle Tennessee, released a statement, saying:

"Our policy is to call 911 and perform CPR unless the resident has a do-not-resuscitate order. That is a standard practice in the assisted living industry."

Though she did not have a DNR order on file, Bayless' family said Tuesday she did not want life-saving measures.

Whether the nurse knew, or whether she avoided CPR for fear she would break the rules, remains unclear.

However, for some, the bigger lesson does not.

"We always think, 'It won't happen to me.' But, guess what? It does happen. So it's very important to not only know the policies, but to be comfortable with them before you sign the lease or you sign the agreement," Shaver said.

Bayless' family said it would not sue the Brentwood-based company, instead considering this "a lesson we can all learn from."

Late Wednesday, the company said in a statement, in part: "We are conducting a company-wide review of our policies involving emergency medical care. We will implement our findings in order to maintain our commitment to the highest level of care."

The nurse at the center of this remains on voluntary leave.

AARP has several resources online for families, including a closer look at the different housing options for seniors. For more information, visit: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/housingoptions/.

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