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Basic Illinois Nursing Home Statistics & Annual Summaries

When working with individuals and families hurt by nursing home negligence and misconduct, it is easy to get bogged down in case summaries. While individual stories are a vital component to the reality of nursing home care in Illinois, it is also helpful to examine more universal trends. After all, it is only by comparing system-wide data year over year that we are able to understand whether real impacts for the better are being made. For example, are citations going down? Are there more or fewer complaints to state officials from residents and their families? All of this provides a helpful indicator of where were are and where we need to go.

Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to accurately collect and report this information. For that reason, it is important to take most universal summaries with a grain of salt. Instead, they are best utilized for their trends–are things going up or down–rather than their “to the number” accuracy.
However, that is not to say that there are not helpful publications out there which attempt to explain the overall picture of nursing home care in Illinois with real statistics. Perhaps the most comprehensive of these is the annual report created by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to the General Assembly on the State of Long-Term Care. This report is required by the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, though the most current report available for viewing online is from 2010.

Illinois Nursing Home Care Stats
The IDPH report offers a wide range of interesting statistics which help provide important persepctive on the state of long-term care in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Some of the more fascinating findings include…

–The total number of long-term care facilites in the state (when the definition is viewed expansively) has actually decreased slightly from 2007 to 2010–from 1,274 to 1,262. However, the number of skilled nursing facilities (most commonly viewed as traditional nursing homes) increased slightly during that same period, from 428 to 452. These trends are important, as there is a well-known demographic shift coming, with an aging population and a likely need for more resources on this front. Perhaps most alarmingly, when all types of long-term care facilities are taken into account, the total bed count over this period decreased from 127,620 to 120,693. Considering the likely increase in need for these services, those numbers will need to turn around.

–At the start of 2010, the IDPH had 204 staff members devoted to license and certification processes, and 9 staff members on quality control. Staffing rates for various regulatory functions are important, because there is often concern about whether or not there are adequate state resources to properly ensure nursing home laws are followed.

–The state reporting of abuse, neglect, and theft committed by nursing home aides shows an interesting trend over the past fews year, if accurate. For example, the report indicates that instances of outright abuse reported to its office from aides declined from 492 in 2006 to 107 in 2009.
That same significant drop was mirrored in individual rates of complaints for physical abuse, sexual abuse, and mental abuse. Similarly, reports of neglect dropped from 39 in 2006 to 13 in 2009. Theft complaints also dropped, though less notably, from 33 to 26 over that same period.

It is critical to point out with regard to these abuse and neglect statistics, that they do not represent an unimpeachable pronouncement on the total instances of mistreatment. The report itself notes that “it cannot be determined whether facilities report all allegations of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property by aides.” The sad reality is that many instances of neglect and abuse will never reach the IDPH and be included in this documentation. But that does not mean that those instances of poor care cannot result in civil liability.

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