Watchdog group report reveals conditions that can lead
to abuse and neglect in Ohio Nursing Homes.
Among the criteria measured, Ohio has received a grade of “F” in Above Average Direct Care Staffing and an “F” in above average Professional Nurse Staffing from a recent report detailing nursing home conditions.
An advocacy group named Families for Better Care assessed the State of Ohio nursing homes and found them lacking in a couple of critical areas. Both of the areas that Ohio came in at the bottom rung had to do with staffing, and both held onto the same position as last year – 48th out of 50.
Nursing home staffing is a critical component of quality care provided to the residents of nursing homes. A number of medical studies over the years have found that adequate staffing shows a direct correlation to the caliber of care that a resident receives. Just 22 additional minutes of direct nursing care for each patient can change below average care to above average care.
“D” in Staffing
Even the category, Direct Care Staffing Hours per Resident, came in with a “D” grade. That turned out to fall three positions lower than the 37th spot they gathered last year. Nursing home abuse and neglect in Ohio are often due to inadequate staffing and untrained workers.
Unfortunately, staff is sometimes the easiest budget item to reduce in order for the nursing home to save money. In fact, because staffing levels are self-reported to the federal government and no verification is completed, it would be easy to slant those numbers to the nursing home’s advantage. If this happens, anyone attempting to evaluate a nursing home in this category would only receive a general idea of the care being provided, since they could not completely rely on the figures that were turned in. Some facilities have hired additional personnel such as aides to help with the not so difficult tasks. This would help the registered nurses stay focused on jobs that require highly trained nurses, but overworked staff at all levels contributes to dissatisfaction and job turnover which contribute to nursing home negligence.
Another important area to watch out for is Above Average Health Inspections. Here Ohio dropped from 21st to 24th place giving them only a “C” ranking.
Medically Unnecessary Services
Extendicare has agreed to pay Donald Gallick, of northeastern Ohio, $258,850 as a result of his suit filed against them in U.S. District Court in Columbus. Gallick’s attorney, Jack Weisensell from Akron, explained that Gallick complained in the suit that the nursing home in Franklinton was seeking Medicare payments for medically unnecessary services. Gallick was a resident in that facility from February through October 2009.
Problems persist in nursing homes throughout Ohio. Medicare has a program titled Special Focus Facility Initiative. The project gives special attention to facilities that show a continuing problem of maintaining good quality of care and consistently show a need for improvement.
Under this program, the Concord Care Center in Trumbull County has been added to the roll. Located in Cortland, the facility has been included on the federal watch list. Chief Executive Officer Debra Ifft disputed the action. She believes that the criterion used to place the institution on the list does not accurately reflect the quality of care that is provided to their residents. Being added to the list subjects the facility to increased penalties, more frequent inspections, and possible removal from the Medicare and Medicaid federal programs.
FindTheBest documented a number of deficiencies from previous inspections. These included such problems as improper storage, cooking, or serving food, improper managing of drug regimens, inadequate record of fire drills, and inadequate treatments or services for residents. This form of nursing home neglect failed to help them maintain or improve their ability to care for themselves.
According to FindTheBest, a number of problems have been discovered during routine inspections in another facility, the Concord Center of Toledo, Ohio. Some of these issues include problems with the automatic sprinkler systems linking to a fire alarm system, electrical wiring and equipment not being properly installed, failing to properly hold the resident’s personal property, maintaining drug records or properly marking the drugs, and failing conduct proper background checks on employees to determine they have no history of violations. They were also cited for improper reporting or investigating claims of abuse. These are all necessary steps to protect residents from nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence in Ohio.
Changes are needed to maintain safety
Families for Better Care is in its second year of evaluating and rating nursing homes across the country. It was established by Brian Lee, a long-term ombudsman for Florida. The group operates from Tallahassee, Florida; however, they evaluate nursing homes in all 50 states. Lee stated that the priorities here are to increase the nursing staff in the nursing homes, with quality registered nurses supervising and training other staff to provide the high quality care that is expected and necessary.
Families for Better Care recommends states take “immediate and decisive action” to make the most important changes to provide better care to nursing home residents. Obtaining proper staffing levels is the most important change that needs to take place to decrease nursing home abuse and neglect in Ohio. Requiring nursing homes to meet mandated staffing levels would be a big help.