Placing a loved one into a nursing home is a tough decision, and you need to be aware of the abuses that take place in nursing homes and know how to choose a quality facility.
Nursing Home Abuse
As sad as it is, nursing home abuse occurs every day and much more often than many of us know. According to a 2008 Health and Human Services (HHS) report, 91 percent of nursing homes in the United States were found to have deficiencies. A deficiency, as defined by HHS, is, “When a nursing home fails to meet one or more of the Federal requirements, surveyors cite a deficiency. There are 190 possible deficiencies…” Seventeen percent of nursing homes were found by HHS to have deficiencies that did or could have resulted in serious injuries to nursing home residents.
In terms of nursing home abuse, women, older patients, and those patients with escalated physical and mental disabilities or illnesses are especially at risk. Nursing home abuse takes place in 5 forms: physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, and financial. Unfortunately, nursing homes demand for staff is unmet, thus nursing homes are understaffed.
Nearly 91 percent of nursing homes are understaffed. As a result of understaffing, residents do not receive enough care time each day according to the HHS.1 In 2002 the HHS2 found that those in understaffed nursing facilities are, “more likely to experience bedsores, malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, pneumonia and serious blood-borne infections.” The understaffing problem is so evident that the Obama Administration has added multiple committees and services to its health care reform plan to encourage health professionals to work in nursing home facilities.
An effect of understaffing is that many nursing homes, in grave need of staff, employ people with criminal records3. The HHS reported in early 2011 that, “92 percent of nursing facilities employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction.”4 Only 7.7% of nursing homes didn’t employ a single employee with a criminal conviction. Nearly 52% of nursing homes had between 1% and 5% of staff members with criminal convictions, and 26% had between 10% and 15% of staff members with criminal convictions.
Choosing a Quality Facility
The above information is only the tip of the iceberg. Given just that, it is abundantly clear that choosing a facility that will offer your loved one quality care is imperative; these are some of the steps one should take to ensure their loved one is in a quality facility:
1. Use Medicare.org’s Resources
The Medicare website has several helpful resources to aid you in your search for the right facility for your loved one. They have a “Nursing Home Checklist” for you to take with you when you visit facilities. They also created a guide, i.e. “Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home,” that provides citizens with detailed information for choosing a nursing home.
2. Do Your Research
There are tons of resources, both governmental and health related. Here are a few:
Gero Nurse Online
Gero Nurse Online is the official website for the American Nurses Association’s Nurse Competence in Aging initiative. It provides people with resources, up-to-date news, and various topic discussions on the world of nursing home care. They provide you with important information that you may not think about when searching for a nursing home. For instance, they recently posted a quick article about Disaster Preparedness, which is something you should discuss with the nursing homes you are considering.
After finding the internet to be a daunting place to get legitimate information on services, education, and products surrounding the nursing home industry, as well as information on nursing home facilities, a group of RN’s who specialized in geriatric care began to this website to aid those in need of such information.
3. Visit Your Potential Facilities
Visiting is an imperative step in the selection process. You need to feel that the environment is suitable for your loved one. You should also ask as many questions as you can to get a feel for the staff and facility. Trust your instincts; if you feel uneasy about a facility, there’s probably a reason for it.
Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer providing information on nursing home abuse and choosing a nursing home for a loved one.
Amber spends much of her professional life writing about nursing home abuse.
 “State-Initiated Nursing Home Nurse Staffing Ratios: Annotated Review of the Literature.” Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HHS. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 2003. Web. 13 Dec. 2011. http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2003/ratiolit.htm.
 Pear, Robert. “9 of 10 Nursing Homes in U.S. Lack Adequate Staff, a Government Study Finds – New York Times.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 18 Feb. 2002. Web.
 Levinson, Daniel R. Memorandum Report: “Trends in Nursing Home Deficiencies and Complaints” Rep. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 Sept. 2008. Web. http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-02-08-00140.pdf.
 “NURSING FACILITIES’ EMPLOYMENT OF INDIVIDUALS WITH CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS.” Hhs.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mar. 2011. Web. http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-09-00110.pdf.