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CT Mirror journalists receive national award for elder care series

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CT Mirror journalists receive national award for elder care series

Feb 16, 2024 | 7:15 am ET
By Stephen Busemeyer
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CT Mirror reporter Dave Altimari accepts an award from the National Press Foundation for the CT Mirror's series "Connecticut's Elder Care Reckoning" in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 2024. ELIZABETH HAMILTON / CT MIRROR
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CT Mirror reporter Dave Altimari accepts an award from the National Press Foundation for the CT Mirror's series "Connecticut's Elder Care Reckoning" in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 2024. ELIZABETH HAMILTON / CT MIRROR

Connecticut Mirror reporters Dave Altimari and Jenna Carlesso received the National Press Foundation’s 2023 AARP Award for Excellence in Journalism on Aging Thursday evening in Washington, D.C., for their four-part series, “Connecticut’s Elder Care Reckoning.”

The National Press Foundation recognized the breadth and impact of the CT Mirror’s stories, which showed how the steps taken over the last decade to strengthen and diversify services have instead led to the creation of a home care system that operates with little oversight at the expense of an increasingly destabilized nursing home sector.

The work led to a series of reforms during the 2023 legislative session, including enhanced transparency laws for nursing home finances and additional oversight measures for home care agencies. Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont released a wide-ranging bill proposing additional reforms across the elder care sector, such as measures designed to increase transparency in nursing home operations and consumer protections for people in assisted living centers.

CT Mirror journalists receive national award for elder care series
Connecticut Mirror reporters Jenna Carlesso and Dave Altimari. CT Mirror

The CT Mirror’s work was recognized in the small/regional media outlet category. Tara Bahrampour of The Washington Post was the winner in the large outlet category for reporting on older Americans who push against the physical and societal restrictions of aging.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from the National Press Foundation and for our work to be considered alongside respected news organizations like the Washington Post and others,” said Executive Editor Elizabeth Hamilton. “Holding government accountable for the care of its most vulnerable citizens is central to the mission of The Connecticut Mirror, and we are proud if our work leads to reforms that will strengthen state oversight of the elder care industry.”

Across the four-part series, the CT Mirror revealed growing problems in both industries. Connecticut is struggling to recruit enough workers to care for its aging population. Residents complain of trouble navigating a convoluted system, and a dearth of affordable housing and lengthy process for accessing Medicaid are undercutting efforts. 

The series also exposed the ways low-income residents and people of color are locked out of higher-quality care options. And though Connecticut has expanded home care services, the state’s more than 900 homemaker companion agencies still operate with little oversight. Altimari and Carlesso reviewed more than 75 complaints alleging theft and neglect and found that while many cases resulted in fines, the state never denied an agency a registration or revoked a registration.

The National Press Foundation’s 41st annual journalism awards dinner Thursday night honored top journalists from around the country, including Al Roker of NBC’s TODAY and Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained by Russia. Reporters and editors from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News and others received awards for their work.

Read Connecticut’s Elder Care Reckoning:

  1. CT’s aging population is growing. There are not enough people and facilities to take care of them.
  2. From shifting finances to changing populations, nursing homes are under pressure from all sides
  3. More people want to age outside nursing homes, but some have few options
  4. More people are aging at home, but the state provides little oversight of a growing industry of home care providers