The most recent portion of my attempt to get insights on the state of nursing homes comes from Norm DeLisle, the Executive Director of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Norm has an extensive background advocating for seniors in Michigan. Thanks Norm!
Who are you and what type of work do you do?
My name is Norm DeLisle, and I am the Executive Director of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. MDRC is a training and policy impact organization. We have collaborated with senior advocates for nearly a decade in advancing nursing home and long term care reform in Michigan.
What are some positive trends (if any) in the nursing home industry?
Some of the larger providers have begun to understand that institutional care is no longer necessary or financially viable as a long term care solution, and they are moving toward much smaller congregate and community based real homes. As interim solutions, the move toward “Eden” and similar movements will make some remaining institutions safer and more home like. But the real measure of progress is, and will remain, expanding choice for individuals and their families.
What are some negative trends (if any) in the nursing home industry?
Fiscal and regulatory pressure is forcing institutional providers to make a choice. One the one hand, they can choose to move to community based models. On the other, they can try to squeeze the last drop of profit or efficiency from their declining fortunes (as is the case with equity and hedge fund takeovers) from the institutional model. The later choice will, overall, increase the misery of those persons who by circumstance or lack of understanding of the possibilities, are forced to be the commodities in the pursuit of purely business outcomes.
What correlation do you see with respect to the national trends in the nursing home industry and the impact on patient care?
Those policy forces attempting to improve institutional models will lose out for better or worse to the lack of financial viability of the institutional model.
How would you compare the nursing homes of today vs. those of 20 years ago?
Overall, they divide into two camps. Those that are far better than even the best of 20 years ago, and those that are far worse than even the worst of 20 years ago. There are some exceptions on the worst side. Some specialized nursing homes for persons with developmental disabilities more than 20 years age were worse than any I have run into today.
What suggestions do you have for families when it comes to selecting a facility for their loved ones?
Be aware of all the options. This means early planning for LTC. Don’t let a crisis, or bullying discharge planners force you into an instant, fear driven decision.
Three words to describe nursing homes:
Institution, institution, institution.
If you are involved in any aspect of nursing homes, I want to hear from you! We are in the process of assembling a broad range of perspectives on the state of nursing homes and your opinions are important to the discussion related to improving patient care. Please email me if you would like to participate.
For laws related to Michigan nursing homes, look here.