$120K settlement announced between AG Donovan, Spring Village manager

Exterior of Maple Ridge Memory Care, formerly Spring Village at Essex

Vermont State Attorney General T.J. Donovan has reached a settlement with a Maryland-based company which used to manage a residential care home in Essex Junction.

Donovan’s office announced on Jan. 6 that WoodBine Senior Living, LLC agreed to the settlement with the terms including a total payment of $120,000; nearly half of that will go to families which were impacted by operational decisions of Spring Village at Essex--a 56-bed residential care home.

Spring Village, now operating under new ownership and management off of Essex Way as Maple Ridge Memory Care, was managed by WoodBine from December 2014-April 2018.

“Older Vermonters and their families making crucial and difficult decisions about long-term care deserve the truth from care facilities as to the levels of care they can and can’t provide,” said Donovan. “Residents and their families should be able to rest easy that a promise today won’t be broken tomorrow. This isn’t just a matter of marketing; it’s a matter of public health.”

The issue in question relates to how Spring Village misrepresented the extent of the care which it could provide to the families of prospective residents. WoodBine claimed that the “memory care” home would be able to tend to residents through all stages of dementia and aging--and allow those residents to “age in place,” receive “end of life care,” and never have to move again.

However, Vermont state laws and regulations restricted Spring Village’s actual ability to thoroughly provide these services.

When residents’ needs came to exceed the facility’s license, they were given discharge notifications and forced to find somewhere else to go--or to legally challenge the action. After a pattern of complaints was identified, Vermont Legal Aid’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project referred the issue to Donovan’s Elder Protection Initiative. His office then launched its investigation.

“I applaud the family members of residents who spoke up about their experiences so that it would not happen to others,” said Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Sean Londergan. “Today’s settlement is a great example of cross-collaboration among agencies.”

The settlement’s payout includes $1,000 to each of the consumers who moved family members into Spring Village between April 2016-October 2017. $62,000 will go to the State of Vermont while $10,000 will go to the Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for its state-wide care and support program initiatives for individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

An additional term of the settlement has WoodBine agreeing to never again operate a long-term care facility in Vermont.

In conjunction with the settlement, Donovan’s office announced the release of an educational guide for consumers aimed to clear up the confusion about long-term care options. He partnered with the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living to create the guide which is titled “Comparing Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Residences, and Residential Care Homes in Vermont” and can be found at ago.vermont.gov. It lays out the primary distinctions between Vermont nursing homes, assisted living residences, and residential care homes.

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