BRIGHTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - This is a "must see" story for anyone with aging loved ones, a tale of one woman's crusade to clean-up problems at an assisted living facility. It's a place that cares for the most vulnerable adults among us; those losing their memories to Alzheimer's or Dementia.
These problems at an assisted living facility would never have come to light had it not been for the determination of a Livingston County woman who cared for the man she loved right up to his final breath. She says he had a great life with a very sad and undignified ending.
Tom Longsworth lived a full and fruitful life. He was captain of his college football team. He served his country as marine helicopter Pilot in Viet Nam, and later as a corporate pilot for General motors. In 1965 he married his wife Evelyn, a wonderful match, she says, that lasted 47 years until his death last August.
"Very accomplished, very bright, a warm wonderful person and it was so unfortunate when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was just a heartbreaker," said Evelyn Longsworth.
Longsworth took care of her husband at home for 6 years. Until, her son came home for a visit on Thanksgiving 2011.
"And he said mom, it's now time. Dad's getting worse, this house is getting bizarre, and you know what, it's unsafe," Longsworth told 7 Action News.
A few months later Longsworth moved her husband into Ashley court, near her home in Brighton. Their advertising touted top notched care, and the place looks great outside.
But Evelyn, who visited every single day, soon saw signs of trouble. She noticed that the place looked dirty.
"I take notes, and I kept a journal. And I'm real good at photography. I take pictures of everything. I have a camera at all times on me," said Longsworth.
She took pictures of filthy air vents, and cooling fans caked with thick layers of dust. She says the carpets were also filthy and the facility didn't even have a shampooer, so she brought her own in.
"And I would extract unbelievable black urine, dirt. And I showed it to staff members and I photographed it because I knew it had to be evidence otherwise no one would believe what I'm saying," said Longsworth.
She soon discovered why the place was so neglected. Care givers at Ashley Court were also responsible for cleaning the place.
"I noticed they were doing laundry, they were trying to clean rooms. There was no cleaning crew there. Now this is for a building with 20 rooms," Longsworth said.
Longsworth stresses that the caregivers at Ashley Court were wonderful. But, she says, there just weren't enough of them and if they were spending time cleaning, bad things can happen.
"I saw some people fall. I saw some people get hurt. And there was no staff around," said Longsworth.
One day she says she walked in and found her husband lying on the floor outside of his room. His feet were filthy. Another time she found bloody holes in his socks and skin scraped off his toes. She was told it happened during a fire drill and she came to a conclusion.
"And I said, 'oh my God they dragged his feet across the cement'?"
And it gets worse. During another visit, Longsworth discovered a horrific bruise on her husband's buttocks that went all the way down to below his knee. She took a picture of the injury.
"It was never investigated. It was like, 'oh well, he fell, we don't know what happened', and they moved on," Longsworth said.
Longsworth says she tried to talk to the owner of Ashley Court but she was told he didn't talk to family members.
"And I said, 'let me get this straight. I'm paying his salary as are other families and he can't talk to us'? And she said, 'that's correct, you have to talk to the director'. I said there is no director at Ashley Court," said Longsworth.
And there hadn't been a director there since 2011.
The 7 Action News Investigators went to Ashley court and spoke with the owner, Rubin Chandok. Scott Lewis showed him a picture of the horrendous bruise on Tom Longsworth's buttocks.
"We did acknowledge it to the family member and we did do the correct procedure on it, Chandok said.
"She (Evelyn Longsworth) said she discovered it," Lewis responded.
"No she didn't," Chandok insisted.
But an inside source familiar with Longsworth's care confirms Evelyn's version of the story.
Longsworth was trying to move for her husband, but he died during the process. Still grieving, she pulled herself together and filed a detailed complaint with the state with all the documentation and pictures she had collected.
The state investigated and found four violations: Inadequate staffing, inadequate supervision, personal care and protection for residents, residents injured from falls that the staff is not aware of and don't investigate, and the facility is often unclean.
Ashley Commons submitted a corrective action plan, which was approved by the state, and the owner says things are already being fixed.
"We're hiring a housekeeper. That I think should
alleviate some of the work from the care givers who are our bread and butter. They are the salt of earth as far as I'm concerned," said Chandok.
Chandok also says they are hiring another caregiver, and a director of operations.
"You can hire as many people as you want but you need somebody to oversee them," said Chandok.
And remember Longsworth's complaints to the state about those dirty carpets? Chandok told Scott Lewis that they are also buying a carpet shampooer.
Longsworth thinks Ashley Court will follow up on the corrective action plan, but doubts it will last.
"I think you're dealing with someone who is a real slick operator. I think they know how to fly just above the minimum requirements."
A spokesman for the State Department of Human Services, the agency responsible for regulation of adult foster care facilities, said the state will follow up to make sure the corrective action plan is followed.