Virginia officials have ordered a full inspection of smaller state-licensed adult-care homes after a spot check by a study commission turned up "deplorable and alarming conditions" at 20 of the facilities.

Neither the state's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which recently made a random survey of 29 of the homes, nor the Welfare Department, which licenses them, would disclose the names and locations of the homes where deficiencies were cited.

A report issued by the commission, however, has prompted the Welfare Department to send teams of inspectors to about 150 of the smaller homes to evaluate their services.

"At least one-third of the homes we looked at had serious deficiencies in food supply, nutrition, sanitation, preventive health measures and legal operations," said Phil Leone, assistant director of the commission, "and 20 of the 29 had one or more problems in these areas."

The commission report said the food in some of the homes was inadequate, and the operators sometimes did not serve the required three daily meals. Both the quantity and nutritional quality of the food was criticized at some homes.

Additionally, the commission report complained that illegal and unlicensed homes were operating "all over the state" because the Welfare Department has failed to enforce vigorously the state health standards and regulations.

A spokesman for the Welfare Department said the identities of the substandard adult-care homes were not being disclosed in order to avoid possible legal action against the state by their operators.

Welfare inspectors plan to complete their survey and report their findings when department and commission officials meet Sept. 10, according to Leone.

I don't know whether the exact locations of those homes with problems will be made public or whether the report will just use numerical statistics," he said. "That will be up to the commission."

There are 314 licensed adult homes in the state and officials have estimated they house about 10,400 residents.

Smaller homes, housing 20 residents or fewer, accounted for most of the deficiencies cited after commission staff members made unannounced visits.