Bad nursing home care persists twenty-five years after passage of a federal law designed to improve care. Two factors have been dominant in reducing the law’s effectiveness, the nursing home industry’s political influence and the dominance of nursing home ownership by the chains that have political clout.
Better care is typically found in independently owned homes, those not owned by one of the chains, especially if the independent homes are run by non-profit organizations like churches. Unfortunately, chains own most nursing homes, and most nursing homes are for-profit. The chains focus on increasing profits for investors. Since staff, like nurses, cost money, the for-profit chains tend to have less staff than the not-for-profit independent homes.
More staff is crucial for good care. A federal study found that without a daily average of 2.8 hours of care from nurses’ aides and 1.3 hours of care from licensed nurses, patients were more likely to experience health problems like pressure sores and malnutrition. In homes with poor staffing levels, call bells are sometimes placed out of reach, residents remain unturned for hours, and their pleas for toilet assistance are ignored.
To find the good homes call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for referral to the local agency on aging which can then give contact information for the local ombudsman. The ombudsman is employed by the government to be an advocate for residents and their families. Ask the ombudsman for the names of good homes in the area.
Within that group, look first at the independent, not-for-profits. Look at the home’s state inspection survey, Form 2567, which should be posted in plain view in the facility, to see the number and severity of its violations. Consumer Reports’ online Quality Monitor at Consumer Reports.org/nursing homes is also a great source of information. I hope this information will help you.