The majority of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid support to pay for the long-term specialized care that they need. As a result, the Medicaid program has enormous control over the care at most nursing facilities–they can make requirements and pull funding when those requirements are not met.
The “Nursing Home Compare” website that we frequently reference is based almost entirely on how well those homes do on various inspections and quality of care indicators. These inspections and checks are performed annually, and so they provide a helpful way to gauge how different facilities are improving (or not improving) in their efforts to raise standards, eliminate elder neglect, and ultimately improve the well-being of residents.
This is helpful for seniors and their families when making decisions about which home to choose. It is also useful for regulators, as they make decisions about whether the very worst homes which provide poor care should remain open.
Special Focus Facilities
One way that regulators identify the lowest-quality facilities and ensure they improve is by use of designations known as “Special Focus Facilities” (SFF). SFFs are a list of homes that are under particularly close scrutiny by regulators, usually as a result of past incidents of harmful neglect and chronically poor conditions.
Nursing homes on the SFF list are visited and inspected more often than other facilities. If the situation does not improve at these facilities they may face a range of adverse effects including citations, fines, or even complete removal from the Medicare and Medicaid programs (which usually result in the facility’s closure). The longer that the home is on the SFF list, the more serious the sanctions. The idea is that if the facility operators do not get their act together in a reasonable time, residents should not continue to be put in harm’s way.
Special Focus Facilities – Illinois Nursing Homes
This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released the latest list of facilities nationwide that were part of the SFF program. The lists are broken down into several categories including:
*Facilities that were newly added to the list *Facilities that remained on the list this year but showed improvement *Facilities that remained on the list this year but did not show improvements *Facilties that “graduated’ from the program this year.
Illinois residents and their families should take a look at the list (download in .pdf form here) to get an idea of where local facilities stand. Some of the Illinois nursing homes mentioned are:
*Newly added to the list: Arthur Home in Arthur, Illinois; Pickneyville Health Care Center in Pickneyville, Illinois
*Facilities that showed improvement (but are still on the list): Elmwood Nursing & Rehab Center in Maryville, Illinois; Plaza Nursing & Rehab Center in MIdlothian, Illinois.
*Facilities that did not show improvement: Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook.
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