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No Country for Old People: Getting Poor Care in Highly Rated Facilities

June 08, 2023

Consumer Voice has long been concerned with the use of antipsychotics and other drugs in long-term care, as they are too often used as chemical restraints in place of providing adequate care. In this episode, Consumer Voice Executive Director, Lori Smetanka, is joined by award-winning writer/director Susie Singer Carter and former federal prosecutor Rick Mountcastle to discuss their upcoming documentary, No Country for Old People. Susie and Rick are collaborating on the film to promote conversations about the improper treatment and poor conditions many individuals in long-term care endure and spur action to address these failures in care. The documentary was inspired by Susie’s mother and the ordeal she experienced in what was advertised as a five-star long-term care residence in Los Angeles.

Without Susie’s consent, her mother was given Depakote, a medication that was not approved for the treatment of dementia-related agitation. When she eventually came off the drug, which had a black-box warning, Susie noticed her mother’s personality return to a limited degree, but her quality of life significantly worsened, and she would never walk again. As was true for many with family members in long-term care, the COVID-19 pandemic drew the curtain on what was really going on, even in reputable facilities. Susie connected with Rick, who led the investigation and charges against Depakote’s manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories. Rick is also known for his prosecution of Purdue Pharma and its top executives for the false marketing of oxycontin and their contribution to the opioid crisis in America, as featured in the miniseries Dopesick. After they spoke, Susie realized that the use of chemical restraints in long-term care – as well as harmful neglect of residents – were systemic issues nationwide, not limited to her mother’s facility in California. The two teamed up to co-produce the documentary, united in their sense of urgency to make this story heard.

Consumer Voice agrees that a culture change is necessary to hold these facilities – many of which receive public funds – accountable for how they treat their residents. No Country for Old People is in development, and Susie and Rick intend to make the film available to as many people as possible. Learn more about the documentary and make a donation to its production.

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