November 16 update (original post -September 27, 2007) — Today the Times reported that congressional hearings are looking into charges that nursing homes. It reported that “Members of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and the Senate Special Committee on Aging proposed measures to require nursing homes to disclose ownership and to require regulators to release information about poorly managed homes.”
September 27 — The New York Times reported this week that investor-owned nursing homes tend to have fewer staff and experience more serious deficiencies and other problems than the national average. The article examined more than 1,200 nursing homes purchased in recent years by large investment groups. The acquired homes scored worse on 12 of 14 indicators used by regulators to assess the well-being of long-term residents.
One of the phenomenons reported is that private homes are more likely to reduce staff headcount, particularly of their nursing professionals. Investor-owned facilities have an average of 20 residents per clinical registered nurse, compared to 13 for the national average.
The active adults who tend to be Topretirements.com visitors might not be in the market for a nursing or continuing care facility for themselves – yet. But they well might be shopping for one for a parent or relative. If you are looking, keep these considerations in mind:
– Ask for the current ratio of residents to clinical registered nurses (the national average is 13)
– Ask to see records of serious health deficiencies found by nursing home inspectors. Compare those to national averages at the Department of Health and Human Services.
– Find out who owns the facility. If the ownership scheme is tangled web, be cautious. The Times reports that some investors have retreated to very complex ownership schemes to protect themselves against patient lawsuits.
– Use Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare” Tool. The primary purpose of this tool is to provide detailed information about the past performance of every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country.
– Use Medline Plus to help find a good facility near you.
– Visit the facility and ask for references. There is no substitute for your instincts and observations.
For further study: How to Persuade Your Elderly Relative It Might Be Time to Move