It was disappointing and disturbing to see that Ohio’s nursing homes ranked as some of the lowest in the country. How could that be ? We are the land of buckeyes, the birthplace of eight  US Presidents and a great lake- so why our state’s nursing homes treat our seniors so poorly? The Cleveland Plain Dealer reporters have spent the last few months analyzing data and recent published a scathing report of Ohio nursing homes  According to the numbers set forth in the national nursing home rating system known as Nursing Home Compare.  See my April 2, 2015 blog post on this national rating system.  Let’s take a quick review of this government system here.The Center for Medicare and Medicaid who pay the greatest bulk of the bill for residents, set up a national rating system to grade nursing homes on a 1- 5 star rating system :1 star is a lowest rating and 5 star the highest or best rating. The rating system is based on 3 issues which are important to assessing good resident care :

1. Health inspections rating:
The health inspection ratings on the 3 most recent comprehensive (annual) inspections, and inspections due to complaints in the last 3 years. Though more emphasis on recent inspections.
2. Quality measures (QM) rating:

There are 16 QMs conditions that affect the residents in the facility; like how many residents have fallen recently, have pressure ulcers, have had a loss of mobility , have lost control over bowel and bladder function or have lost significant amount of weight . These condition are obtained from clinical data reported by the nursing home. These may indicators quality of care .
3. Staffing rating:

These rating are based on two factors a) Registered Nurse (RN) hours per resident per day; and 2) total staffing hours per resident per day which RNs; Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs). Once again these numbers are submitted by the nursing home and take into account the needs of the residents;

So this investigation looked at Ohio’s nursing homes and their ratings as compared with the nation and found that Ohio has 184 nursing homes that are rated with only one star. And nearly 200 Ohio nursing homes received a two star rating . So that tally stands at nearly 41% of Ohio’s nursing homes only earned a one or two star rating. Charlene Harrington , a distinguished Professor of Nursing and member of the Nursing Home Compare advisory committee said “ One-star nursing homes tend to have a lot of deficiencies and low staff.” Of course that makes sense, that if there is not enough nursing staff to care for the residents, the residents suffer” . Why would a nursing home not hire enough nurses and nurse aides? Yep you guessed it money – staffing is the major expense in a nursing home, so short on staffing and save some money and increase those profits. Shameful but often true.
I believe the rating system in Nursing Home Compare is an important tool for families when researching the right nursing home for their family member. One of the best ways to prevent nursing home negligence is picking a home with a high rating which usually means a well- trained nurses and enough nursing staff to care for all the residents.

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