Sending your loved one to live in a nursing home is not a spontaneous decision. Chances are you have done your research on the available residential facilities and have taken the steps you need to guarantee your loved one is going to be in a safe environment. Sadly, finding a nursing home that has the perfect combination of compassionate workers and reputation can be difficult, particularly when so many are understaffed and overwhelmed with residents who require full-time attention. One recent discovery at a nursing home outside of Philadelphia is highlighting one very pressing problem found in many nursing homes: severe neglect.
The St. Francis Problem
Once owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. Francis Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare was bought out by Charles-Edouard Gros of Center Management Group in 2014. The leadership quickly reduced the number of staff by 20 percent and the hours worked by registered nurses by almost 30 percent. An inspection completed in August of 2017 shows just how important proper staffing can be. Eleven of the 28 residents who were reviewed had been found to be neglected, one so badly that she died two weeks after the inspection of infection from a bone-deep bedsore. Three others were found to have died around the time of the inspection. These deplorable conditions should have resulted in criminal charges, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the nursing home lost its license and was fined more than half a million dollars. An appeal now allows them to run under a provisional license.
The Root Of The Problem
While Obama was president, the organization behind Medicare and Medicaid required nursing homes to meet certain criteria, including minimum staffing requirements, to receive government funding. This encouraged nursing home leaders to improve living conditions for seniors. In December of 2017, the Trump administration produced guidelines that discourage the use of fines for forcing nursing homes to comply with national regulations. Considering that four out of every 10 nursing homes have been cited for at least one serious violation since 2013, this decision to reduce fines seems to cater to those communities that cannot provide the quality care that seniors need.
The Argument From The Other Side
For those who own and run nursing homes, a fine from Medicare or Medicaid doesn’t just represent their failure to provide quality care, it makes it impossible for them to improve the quality of care. Many argue that they are forced to spend time and resources to make improvements and pay the fines rather than investing the time in caring for their residents. While this may be a valid concern, advocates for patients believe that by removing fines for failing to meet a minimum standard, nursing home administrators who lead low-quality communities might not make the improvements needed for their residents. This belief seems to be corroborated by the statements of the owner of St. Francis Center, who basically claimed that reducing the staff and lowering the money invested toward patient care when he took over needed to happen because the previous owners offered seniors such good care that it wasn’t “normal.”
Protecting Your Loved Ones From Neglect
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) maintains a database of long-term-care facilities around the country and rates them for quality and availability of service. Here, you can search for the best nursing homes in the region or research a community that you’re considering for your own loved one. You may also visit Nursing Home Inspect to search for nursing home deficiency reports so you know the kind of infractions reported at nursing homes you might be considering. Your senior loved ones deserve to live in a safe and nurturing community, and you deserve the peace of mind in knowing you’ve made the right choice for your family.