Yesterday I heard a report on Newsradio 780 in Chicago that Illinois was cited as one of the two worst states for nursing home care. The report was very brief and sketchy, so when I had an opportunity, I logged onto their website and read the article. It was only several paragraphs in length so I will just paraphrase what it said.
The report was produced by an advocacy group called Families For Better Care. Their executive director said , “his non-profit reviewed federal data from three groups and put much of the blame on the number of nursing home employees. The staffing in Illinois is nearly abysmal. They practically have skeleton crews working in nursing homes.”
My question is, federal data from what three groups? I am assuming he is talking about the three components that make up the Medicare five star rating system, meaning the annual survey from the Illinois Department Of Public Health (IDPH), the quality measures, and the staffing. As a senior living advisor, I always tell my clients that the five star system has its faults. The only component of that system that I trust somewhat is the survey from the IDPH. The other two components, quality measures and staffing are reported by the nursing home employees. I don’t trust anything that is self- reported.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree that the nursing homes are understaffed with many of them having ratios of 1 Certified Nurse’s Assistant to 10 or 12 residents. Coincidentally, I had a conversation with a comptroller of a long term care community yesterday. We were discussing how difficult it is to get good Certified Nurses’ Assistants to work in communities. The employees are very low paid. Many times they complete the training program thinking they are committed to the job. Once they find out how difficult it is to care for the elderly, they realize the commitment isn’t there, resulting in high turnover.
The executive director also said that “results in one in four homes cited for serious problems, such as patients falling or being abused.” The fact of the matter is, no matter how well staffed a nursing home is, people are always going to fall. You can’t guarantee that someone isn’t going to fall, even if they have a private caregiver. He also went on to say that he was going to ask the Governor and lawmakers to increase the staffing requirements. My next question is, where is the money going to come from to increase the staff? I am convinced that the nursing homes that he is citing as problems are most likely nursing homes that have a good number of Medicaid recipients. If my guess is right, Medicaid is over 12 months or longer in arrears for payment to the nursing homes.
In addition, some of the nursing homes have populations that are much older and more sick. These factors could also skew the results of any report depending upon what sort of criteria was being used. Unfortunately, the none of the the data that was used to make the conclusion of this report was clearly spelled out.
As I have said many times, the only way you will know if a nursing home delivers good quality care is by relying upon someone who has first-hand experience with the nursing home communities. Since we have evaluated over 400 senior communities in the Chicago metro area, we can assist you in choosing the right place for your senior loved one. Contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors for all of your senior living needs.