Our Oakland Park nursing home abuse attorneys read with interest USA Today’s recent report, which looked at the ratings handed down by the federal government and based on yearly surveys, inspections and overall quality of care measures. These ratings factor everything from how much individual time staffers spend with patients to whether there have been any indications of nursing home abuse or neglect of patients. Each of the five categories is given a star.
The good news was that the number of one-and-two-star nursing homes dropped last year to 35 percent – down from 40 percent a few years earlier. But consider what this number also means: That there are still more than one-third of nursing homes receiving one-and-two-star-ratings out of a five-star point system. That’s a huge number to be performing below average. And these aren’t just numbers: These are more than one-third of your mothers, fathers, grandparents and elderly loved ones who are suffering.
In Florida, the paper analyzed the ratings of a sampling of about 650 nursing homes across the state. Of those, roughly 65 were given a one-star rating. That’s one in every 10 nursing homes. Additionally, there were more than 120 two-star-rated facilities in the state’s sampling, which equals about 19 percent.
This puts Florida at only a slightly better average than the overall national ratings – but it’s still pretty awful.
Among those areas with the worst-ranked nursing homes: Wellington, West Palm Beach, Plantation, Lakeland, Sunrise, Stuart, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Hollywood, Lantana and Palm Beach Gardens. Keep in mind, though, these are just part of a sampling – it doesn’t mean there aren’t similarly-ranked, poorly-performing homes in other areas of Florida as well.
What’s also important to note is that those figures are not stagnant throughout the year. They are ever-changing, so just because a facility has a good rating one month does not mean it will be the same the following month.
This is why if you are considering placing your loved one in assisted living or a nursing home facility, it’s important to thoroughly research that agency and get the most up-to-date analysis from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that issues the ratings.
Of course, there is no 100 percent, full-proof way to prevent abuse of your loved one if they live in a nursing home. There are, however, things you can do to reduce the chances of it.
1. Choose a facility that is nearby. This will allow you frequent access to stop by, unexpected, at varying hours. This gives you a chance to monitor the quality of care on different shifts, different days and to regularly note the demeanor of your loved one during these times. Plus, there is a lot your loved one may be unwilling or unable to communicate over the phone that you can pick up on in person.
2. Before making the commitment, be sure to note the staffing levels. Even if the staff is caring and compassionate, if there aren’t enough of them, the quality of care is going to inevitably suffer. As about the ratio of patients to aides and nurses. The minimum recommendation by the CMS is that each patient has a daily minimum of about 3 hours of nursing aid time and about 1 hour 15 minutes with either a licensed practical nurse or an RN.
3. Poke around. Wander around the facility and peek in on other rooms. Note the cheerfulness of the patients as well as the staff. Look for safety violations. Make sure the facilities have enough hot water. See that the restrooms and kitchens are clean. Stay for a meal and taste the food. Ask how dietary restrictions are handled. Any place that objects to you probing should be checked off your list.
Call the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez at 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Tips to pick the best nursing home for a loved one, Staff Report, USA Today