Sometimes it’s important to gain insight on topics from people who have lived though experience. Today’s entry regarding the state of nursing homes comes from a person who has channeled his personal frustration with nursing home care into helping others.
Who are you and what type of work do you do?
My name is Dave Poland and I’m the son of a mother who suffered much during the nearly five years she lived in nursing homes in Kentucky and Indiana. I consider myself a “nursing home reform activist” and maintain a blog to challenge the status quo of the nursing home industry (nursinghomereality.wordpress.com). My mother passed away January 1, 2009 and I believe nursing home neglect directly contributed to her death. The day before my mother passed away, I promised her that I would work tirelessly for improvement in the quality of nursing home care so that no other nursing home resident would have to suffer like she did.
What are some positive trends (if any) in the nursing home industry?
The Eden Concept of nursing home care has the potential to improve the quality of care of residents because is clearly is resident-centered/focused, but because it advocates smaller facilities (with 20 residents or less), I fear that the big, greedy long-term care corporations will never get on the bandwagon and create nursing homes in this style.
What are some negative trends (if any) in the nursing home industry?
The biggest negative trend has to be the growth of large, multi-state for-profit nursing home chains. They’ve gobbled up many excellent facilities that were previously either non-profit or at least not
driven to produce MORE profit than these big corporations. Whenever a large for-profit corporation is involved it appears the quality of care suffers, especially in states (like Indiana and Kentucky) where
there are no minimum staffing requirements for nurses and CNAs.
What correlation do you see with respect to the national trends in the nursing home industry and the impact on patient care?
The trend, if you want to call it that, is placing facility profit above quality of care.
How would you compare the nursing homes of today vs. those of 20 years ago?
The impression I get is that 20 years ago they were better staffed (in terms of resident-to-staff ratios) and were controlled more locally rather than by some outrageously large and impersonal out-of-state
What suggestions do you have for families when it comes to selecting a facility for their loved ones?
Talk to your local long-term care Ombudsman BEFORE you make a decision — if you have the time to talk to them first (often times circumstances don’t allow talking to them first). Ombudsmen often know all the important things that need to be known about nursing homes within their service area.
Three words to describe nursing homes: ____, _____, _____
Greedy. Impersonal. Dishonest.
You can learn more about Dave Poland and the work he does at his blog Nursing Home Reality. Thank you for your thoughts Dave!
For laws related to Kentucky nursing homes, look here.