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My mother is a current resident in the apartment side of Pacifica. I can only agree with the "caring son" who also has a review on this site about the precipitous decline in the quality of life since the acquisition by Deepak Israni, who is the owner of the company which purchased formerly Salem/now Pacifica. In every respect this facility has changed from a warm, caring, resident-focused organization to a cold and often almost bizarrely-operated place. Yes, the food used to be quite good--and holidays, such as Mother's Day, celebrated with a buffet (to which family could come), even an ice sculpture which the residents loved. These were lovely events that everyone enjoyed. Now, holidays are like any other day, with mediocre-at-best food, nothing joyful or celebratory, and though family can attend would you pay $30 for a plain, institutional meal? One of the most distressing things is what appears to have been a large investment in redecorating the main building--what was homey and warm is now a poor imitation of a Hampton Inn, complete with credenzas everywhere, photos of unknown people (like the ones that come inserted when you buy a picture frame) all over the place, and the ugliest, heaviest furniture and "stuff" in every nook and cranny. Big, heavy-looking vases, all cheap imports; weird art, e.g. harsh metal doodads on the walls; chairs stuck in odd places where no one is ever sitting, and everything super heavy and unwieldy looking. I shudder to think how an evacuation would be handled with wheelchairs and walkers with all that crap all over the place. It is ugly and impersonal. My mom remains because it is an enormous hassle to move her, of course. But it has been very sad to see what tastelessness and lack of compassion for the people to whom this is their home can do to a nice place. I could go on and on, but it's too depressing.
I will recount my own experience with my mother and father at this facility over the past six years. Based on my own observations, I would advise anyone currently considering this facility to RUN, not walk away at the earliest opportunity. What was once a compassionate, welcoming organization run by the non-profit Elder Care Alliance has been completely transformed by its new megacorporate behemoth owners. The former Salem Lutheran Home (SLH), now Pacifica Oakland Heights (POH), is no place for some in need of assisted living or skilled nursing, at least if you care about how your loved will be treated. SLH is an old facility. Outbuildings that are used to provide lodging for guests visiting residents have basic problems with functioning plumbing and electricity. Maintenance staff is wholly inadequate for the crumbling infrastructure. For example, a double automatic door leading to the Skilled Nursing Unit has had only one half working for the past 3 years. I know this because I go through it every time I visit my family. With the new ownership, POH has seen wholesale staffing changes at all levels. Nearly all patient care staff are having hours drastically cut (I suspect because the new facility owners do not wish to pay them benefits) and the remaining workers are being run into the ground. It is not uncommon for a patient in the Skilled Nursing Facility to wait 20 to 30 minutes for mobility assistance for activities such as using the toilet. Back in the day, SLH had a reputation for a good kitchen that fed residents pretty decent food. With the advent of POH, the ENTIRE kitchen staff was let go. Yesterday's lunch consisted of a scoop of instant mashed potatoes, a pile of unseasoned ground beef and frozen vegetables. One of the few pleasures our elders have in their most advanced years is eating a decent meal. If this is a priority for you and your elderly loved one(s), then you should take this into account when looking at this facility. I would also like to point out that there is a serious problem with the patient population in the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). Demented patients who clearly belong in memory care are housed in the SNF and the remaining residents have no privacy, due to understaffing and lack of supervision. Private rooms are entered by confused residents and there is no ability to correct the problem, per senior management. Of course, if you don't like the fact that nothing can be done about confused residents wandering the halls and going into your loved one's room and walking off with personal items, you're more than welcome to find a new facility, even if your family member is days away from dying. These care problems are NOT the fault of remaining staff working in the trenches. They are incredibly hard working and caring folks who are doing their best under nearly impossible conditions. My hat is off to them. It is my opinion that the operating philosophy and priorities of the new owners can best be summed up in a memo which was circulated to the residents on August 5th (and I quote): "Effective September 1, 2014, Pacifica will no longer be able to routinely provide residents with personal items, such as toilet tissue, bath soap and shampoo/conditioner. You may also notice a reduction in the individually wrapped food items that we stock on the salad bar. Although supplying personal items has been a practice of ECA Salem Lutheran Home, Pacifica isn't capable of this responsibility and can't continue to do so beyond August 30." Given the high costs associated with caring for our parents and grandparents in the setting of nursing homes and Extended Care Facilities, the prudent consumer should look on entering into a residency contract with an entity such as Pacifica as a major investment requiring substantial due diligence. Part of that due diligence should be an assessment of the priorities and operating philosophy of the parent organization. In this regard, I believe the above memo speaks more strongly to these points than any additional words I could write. In closing, I would say that the final due diligence should be an evaluation of the company or organization which runs the facility you are considering. If you visit the Pacifica Companies website, you may well ask yourself what, if any business a Real Estate Conglomerate has taking care of seniors. Your own opinions and priorities may vary, but I personally have deep reservations about the true commitment of a vertically integrated real estate investment company to taking care of my loved ones. Especially when they have to pay for their own toilet paper.
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