Nursing Home Ratings Sites: Are They All the Same?

Nursing Home Patient

If you are searching for a nursing home for a loved one, the choices can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to evaluating the health care, staffing, and overall quality of a facility. To make the process more baffling, it’s not always obvious which criteria each site is using. But help could be available by way of a study published in November, 2017. The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology’s research revealed that nursing homes rated by Yelp reviewers received considerably lower ratings than those listed on Nursing Home Compare (NHC), the website administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It turns out that both sites have their pluses and minuses. Yelp: Charges of Fake Reviews Founded in 2004, Yelp has over 145 million first-person reviews posted for every type of service, from restaurants to plumbers. Yelp reviewers emphasize subjective, personal experiences when it comes to health care of all types, including their own private assessments of costs, physical settings, and staffing. Yelp uses a one-to-five-star ratings system. Yelp has faced charges of fake reviews in many categories, notably restaurants, in the past. Certain research has asserted that fake reviews and ratings could run from 16 percent[…..]

It Could Happen Anywhere

Nusing Home Injury

Hurricane Irma may be receding into the rear view mirror of history, but if your loved one lives in a nursing home, you may have good reason to worry about the next disaster and what it might bring. It’s suspected that a significant number of the approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States are not prepared for disasters, and that the 11 seniors who perished in a South Florida rehab center will not be the last ones to suffer. The executive director of National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Lori Smetanka, commented about the Florida deaths, saying, “This could have happened anywhere. It could have been any type of emergency or disaster.” Post-Katrina Changes New evacuation and safety rules were put into effect after the horror that was Hurricane Katrina, when it’s believed that 1,833 persons died, in total. At LaFon Nursing Home in eastern New Orleans, 22 elderly persons died, with 35 more drowning in a St. Bernard Parish nursing home, located right outside New Orleans. The rules and regulations regarding emergency plans are considered good, but enforcing the rules is the problem. The government often grants multi-year extensions to nursing home operators when it comes to[…..]

Serious Abuse in Nursing Homes Frequently Goes Unreported

Nursing Home Safety

Abuse is the No. 1 issue no one wants to think about—and even fewer want to talk about—when it comes to vulnerable seniors in nursing homes. But an alert released in August, 2017, by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) brought a disturbing issue to light: too often, serious nursing home abuse is not reported to police even though federal law requires such reporting within two hours of when the incident took place. (The deadline is 24 hours for a less-serious case of abuse.) The federal law dictating the requirements for reporting nursing home abuse was bolstered in 2011—and yet we still see unprincipled nursing home management failing to inform police when a resident is harmed. More Seniors in Nursing Homes We have more seniors in nursing homes because we have more seniors, period, than at any other time in our history. The enormous number of baby boomers—those born between 1946 and 1963—plus the fact that we are living much longer lifespans mean that we have a lot of elderly folks in the United States. And, the longer you live, the likelier it is that you will end up in a nursing home[…..]

Nursing Home Abuse Problems—and Not by Staff

Elderly Injury consultation

When you are seeking a nursing home for a loved one who can no longer live by themselves, naturally you are concerned about the care they will receive. Abuse by staff in nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities is never far from your mind if you want to find the best living space for someone with extensive care needs. But you may not know that resident-on-resident abuse is an enormous problem in some nursing homes. That’s right—some who are living there and receiving care are doing the abusing. Stunned by Findings Cornell University researchers studied 10 skilled nursing facilities from 2009 to 2013 in New York State—approximately 2,000 residents. They were shocked by their findings: 20 percent of the residents suffered some form of abuse at the hands of other residents. Senior author of the study, Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Human Development and professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, commented, “We were very surprised by the prevalence of aggression. We thought it would be common, but we did not anticipate that 1 in 5 people would be involved in a resident-to-resident incident.” Study Details The[…..]

Eviction from a . . . Nursing Home?

Nursing Home Patient

Believe it or not, facing eviction from one’s nursing home is a growing problem for seniors and their families. Supposedly based on a behavioral or medical problem, but often based nearly entirely on greed, some nursing homes and assisted living centers are dumping their most difficult or least fiscally-productive patients, so they can open up beds for those who will cause fewer problems for staff and bring in more money. Across the U.S., nursing home evictions are the leading category of all complaints about nursing homes. Between 8,000 and 9,000 complaints are registered with the government concerning such evictions every year. Why Is This Problem Happening? In brief, Medicare pays more than Medicaid and is time-limited. To explain further:  Short-term rehabilitation care that is paid for by Medicare, which is frequently prescribed after a hospital stay, pays 84 percent more for patients than the facilities receive from Medicaid patients. Medicaid is the health insurance program that kicks in when low-income elderly and others need long-term care. The ever-changing health care landscape penalizes those with few financial resources but many medical needs. A staff lawyer at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Anthony Chicotel, says he receives calls weekly from those[…..]

Improvements in Nursing Home and LTC Facility Care for Our Loved Ones

Nursing Home Patient

Almost everyone these days seems to know someone in a nursing home or long-term care (LTC) facility. Perhaps it’s an old friend, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or maybe even one of your parents. Advances in medical care mean it is growing more likely that we will need a nursing home or LTC facility as we live longer, but possibly frailer, lives. It is important to protect the rights and dignity of those who cannot speak for themselves. Those who act as advocates for nursing home residents argue that, because of inadequate staffing and other problems, care can be compromised. For example, Federal law requires only one registered nurse (RN) on the day shift for facilities as large as 500 beds. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurses’ aides are left to take up the slack. Therefore, a number of the new rules focus on such personnel. Proposed Changes by the HHS In July of 2015, as part of the White House Conference on Aging, the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed updates to existing regulations in order to improve care for those in nursing homes and LTC facilities. The new rules and regulations would[…..]

Hazardous Hygiene

Hot Water Burn in Shower

Maybe when you think of death behind a shower curtain you envision the famous scene from the movie Psycho. But there’s another, less dramatic but more common, danger lurking in the bath. In the United States, burns from hot tap water result in about 1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deaths per year. The first week of February has been designated Burn Awareness Week, and the focus of the campaign this year is to prevent scalding injuries. It Happens Quicker Than You Think Water at 140 degrees can lead to a serious burn within three seconds, while it takes 10 minutes for water at 120 degrees to cause a serious burn. Scalding by hot water or another liquid can result in severe scarring, permanent disability and even death. Of hospitalized burn patients, liquid scald burns account for the second largest number of death. This is particularly true for certain high-risk groups — children, the elderly, and those with special needs. When a person in one of these high-risk groups suffers a scalding burn, it is often due to the negligence of a caregiver. Elderly React Different to Hot Water Older adults typically have certain characteristics which make exposure to extremely hot[…..]

13 Ways You Can Help Your Older Loved One Avoid A Fall

Elderly Safety

Over the course of a year, more than one in three people aged 65 or older takes a fall. The risk of falling rises with age and can cause long-lasting disability and diminished quality of life. Among seniors, falls are the No. 1 cause of fractures, loss of independence, and death due to injury. This holiday season, many of us are stumped about what to give our senior family members and friends. They appear to have all the “stuff” they need. Gift cards and money seem too impersonal. Why not make a trip to their home or apartment and do a screening to identify a situation that could cause a fall and then provide a solution. Here are some tips about how you can help them avoid a fall injury during 2015: Arrange furniture so there is room to walk freely, especially if walkers or canes are used. Check to make sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs and are not buckled or frayed. If throw rugs are used, attach them to the floor with double-sided tape or ensure that the non-skid backing is still in good shape. Put down non-slip strips or buy a colorful rubber[…..]

Privacy Rights In Nursing Homes

Nursing Home Room

We recently wrote about the use of “granny cams” in nursing homes and the provisions in Maryland law which protect the right to privacy of nursing home residents. The right to privacy is a feature of the Bill of Rights for nursing home patients, included in the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). Certain aspects of patient privacy are also protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Maryland permits a nursing home resident or family member to request installation of a fixed video camera in the resident’s room (although the facility is not required to grant the request), but care must be taken not to record a roommate or any other resident, to safeguard their privacy. But what about videos or photographs taken by nursing home staff? Are they allowed? Not if they violate the resident’s privacy. An employee who takes, and perhaps shares, unauthorized pictures or videos may be guilty of violating §483.13(b) of the NHRA, which prohibits mental abuse – and that includes humiliation – and/or §483.15, which requires nursing homes to maintain the dignity and respect of each resident. Unfortunately, with the widespread availability of cell phones with still and video camera capabilities, we’re hearing[…..]

10 Things You Need To Know About “Granny Cams”

Nursing Home Safety

The website Safety.com reports that, according to recent studies, between 1 and 2 million people over the age of 65 residing in a nursing home setting are victims of abuse or neglect. That number may be understated since many elderly nursing home patients are either afraid or unable to communicate to their loved ones that they are being mistreated. Many advocacy groups are urging the use of technology to document the conditions under which vulnerable older people live. Video cameras – sometimes called “granny cams” — may tell the story that abused patients cannot tell. Maryland is one of only five states in the U.S. that allows the placement of cameras in nursing homes. (The others are Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Washington.) In fact, Maryland was one of the first states to consider electronic monitoring. The first attempt at legislating this form of patient protection was sponsored in 2001 by Maryland State Delegate Sue Hecht, who witnessed the abuse of her grandmother, Vera, in a nursing home. The bill failed to pass during that session and was introduced again in 2002; that bill also died in committee. Finally (as they say, three times is a charm), Vera’s Law became[…..]