How to Choose the Right Nursing Home- Be on the Lookout for a New Warning Identifying Poorly Performing Nursing Homes

How do you choose the right nursing home?

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy one.  Sometimes it is inevitable after care at home is no longer sustainable and often it comes after a hospital visit or another sudden unfortunate event.  We’d all like to consider ourselves prepared.  However, what I have learned firsthand is that it’s not comfortable to plan for skilled nursing care or long-term care. Its simply something we’d rather not be faced with.  Yet for many of us the time comes, and we are forced to do it.  Square in the face.  Mom needs more care than we can provide at home or mom is no longer safe at home on her own.  Then we are scrambling.

AARP, long trusted for their senior advocacy and resources says: “If you’re looking for a high-quality nursing home, the advice from experts is loud and clear: Do your homework. They advise future residents and their families to dive into government records and conduct their own facility inspections.”

There are many tools, articles and websites available to us when selecting a nursing home for our loved ones.  Most often I find Medicare.Gov/NursingHomeCompare to be the most extensive resource and the best place to start your search.

The information on Nursing Home Compare can help you learn:

  • How nursing homes have performed on health and fire safety inspections
  • How the nursing home is staffed with nurses and other healthcare providers
  • How well nursing homes care for their residents
  • Nursing homes that have had issues related to preventing abuse
  • Nursing Homes that have had significant issues maintaining compliance to protect resident health and safety, and are part of the Special Focus Facility Program

A New Warning for Nursing Homes with Recent Findings of Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation. Watch for the Hand!

When looking at this issue I decided best to start with the source.  The CMS press release regarding the icon explained that effective October 23, 2019 a new warning will be added to the Nursing Home Compare website.  This warning labels facilities that within the last month were cited for one or both of the following:

  • 1) abuse that led to harm of a resident within the past year; and
  • 2) abuse that could have potentially led to harm of a resident in each of the last two years.

What does the time period and information mean to us?

  • Consumers will not be forced to wait for CMS’s quarterly updates to see the latest -related information
  • Nursing homes will not be flagged for longer than necessary if their most recent inspections indicate they have remedied the issues that caused the citations for abuse or potential for abuse and no longer meet the criteria for the icon. (CMS.Gov)

The idea is that this tool will give consumers, families and residents a better idea of what is going on at the nursing home they select.  CMS notes that the Five Star Ratings tool alone does not tell all that is known and considerations that should taken when selecting a nursing home for our loved ones.  This icon is part of a larger 5 pillar program introduced by CMS with the intent of better informing the public and protecting the rights, safety and dignity of our nursing home residents.  The icon is the foundation of the approach to Increase Transparency. There is an old saying that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. I agree. So when you are researching a nursing home that has this new warning that they have been cited by the government for recent incidents of resident abuse, neglect or exploitation, better to consider another facility. Why take the chance of putting your family member in a home that has been found to have abused a resident?

As you can imagine long term care facilities industry are not fans of this new tool. Though you would think that “good” homes would want to weed out the bad ones .   While some fine tuning may be required of the program it seems to be doing its job- telling consumers that there has been some form of abuse at the facility. The more information you have about what is happening in a nursing home the better!  While the companies decry this as unfair or inaccurate, I applaud it.  If there’s been abuse, I want to know up front.  End of story.  No amount of abuse is acceptable.  There may be mitigating details that deeper investigation uncovers but I’d like the information out there in plain site.  If I can choose between a place with or without abuse incidents the choice is clear.

Local Examples of Nursing Homes Labeled “Do Not Proceed”

Facilities in the Cleveland area have already been labeled with this ominous icon.  For example, City View Healthcare and Rehab, Eliza Bryant Center, Algart Healthcare and Crestmont North Nursing Home just to name a few.  This means these facilities have recently been sited for issues relating to abuse.   Abuse is defined as the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish. It includes verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse.  Medicare.Gov advises that “Nursing homes cited for abuse are required to take steps to protect their residents. If you’re considering a nursing home that’s been cited for abuse, we encourage you to ask the administrator or other staff about what they’re doing to keep residents safe from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation.”

If you or a loved one has sustained a nursing home injury or abuse, I would invite you to call my office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can use my extensive experience to help you.