Online Reviews Provide Easy-to-Read Critiques of Nursing Home Care but Families Must Research and Visit Facilities Prior to Choosing a Facility
On any given day, hundreds of Illinois families are helping choose support for their loved ones from the nearly 1,200 long-term care facilities in the state. While some individuals are in the need of a nursing home for just a few days to rehabilitate from a hospital stay or injury, many will live out their remaining years requiring constant long-term care. With national reviews indicating an abuse rate of 44 percent and a neglect rate of 95 percent of these residents, selecting a nursing home for yourself or a family member must include an in-depth site visit, preferably more than one at different times, and as much time possible discussing and reviewing credible sources. Additionally, as online opportunities to review nursing home care have emerged more frequently, the additional readings of anecdotal stories and experiences shared by residents and their family members, and staff via websites and social platforms can help provide a full scope of the pros and cons of each facility – within reason.
How the Federal Government’s ‘Nursing Home Compare’ Tool Evaluates Care Standards
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal entity responsible for overseeing nursing homes is currently the single largest payer for healthcare in this country, including 57 percent of nursing home care for Illinois residents. CMS operates the Nursing Home Compare website, a tool often referred to families to review a nursing home’s inspection reports and overall ratings. Through the online assessment reports, nursing homes can be found based on a location and are ranked with one to five stars according to their performance in three areas: state-conducted health inspections, nurse staffing and medical quality measures. Homes are shown with a star rating in each of the categories. But some health economists and long-term care leaders have expressed concerns that the five-star rating system on the federal government’s site holds too many faults and skewed measures based on the type of skilled staff, and care and resources each facility has funding or access to.
Anyone Can Be an Online Critic
Several online consumer review opportunities have become a quick way for families to make decisions on care. Just as you may choose a restaurant based on customer feedback, the same train of decision making is happening for people to choose a long-term care facility or nursing home. Some online hot-spots for leaving nursing home reviews include:
- org (forum communities)
This type of feedback can be helpful for experience-based reviews and is likely to be more anecdotal in sharing specific information related to a resident’s needs vs. how a home fails to meet quality standards for the health and safety of residents so it is best to find alternative sources for research in conjunction. Because for example, just about anyone (even a disgruntled employee) can become an author of an online review sharing disgust for a smelly bathroom or lackluster taste in nursing home food, but are families able to find out safety information related to the numbers of resident falls, bed sores, or allegations of abuse and past history of resident neglect?
Families Who Research and Do the Work Often Pick Best Homes
Although these online tools can provide insights that shouldn’t be overlooked and should be part of the process required to be educated about specific facilities, families need to do the homework any prospective resident or family member deserves before moving in. That means putting the time into discussion, planning, and several in-person visits to provide a full evaluation of a facility’s ability to give the constant care and supervision needed so your loved one will not be neglected, abused, or forgotten. Because of this, we often advise family members to consider following these time-consuming yet deserving steps before making any nursing home decisions on behalf of their loved one.
Have Discussions with Your Loved One and Their Clinicians About Needs
Consider what is most important when it comes to the needs of your loved one. Will they need hospice or memory care support? Do they have special dietary restrictions or require physical therapy? What about health insurance coverage? Would they do best in a setting that has a religious connection or is close to family? If you are able to have these discussions with your family member and their treating physician before you make any formal inquiries about services, it can help narrow down the best facilities to choose from.
Start Researching and Pick Up the Phone
Start researching facilities online and with the help of a provider. Once you have gathered a list of possible facilities to learn more about, go out and seek information from friends, social workers, and elder support organizations. Your next step should be to call each place on your list and ask several questions about how many people live there, what type of duties staff have, any improvements they have made over the last year, eviction rates, and what are costs and Medicare and Medicaid certifications and discussion about how they create basic care plans. If you feel comfortable with the feedback given, request to make plans to meet with the administrator and the nursing director. Before that visit happens, ask to see the current inspection report and certification of the nursing home prior and take some time to do that online research via the review sites mentioned earlier.
Schedule Multiple Visits
When you arrive to the home, take note of everything from strong odors (good or bad) to interactions between staff and residents. Notice the lighting and locks on doors and windows. Ask to see all community rooms, kitchen areas, bathrooms, and the types of rooms available for new residents. Request a sampling of food served even. Never be afraid to ask questions and repeat them if you don’t feel you received a good enough answer. Can you meet with residents capable or sharing their experience? Even if you have a great feeling, make an unscheduled second visit during a time of day different than your first visit. This way you can meet other staff members and see different activities.
Levin & Perconti: Attorneys for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
In our nearly three decades litigating nursing home abuse and neglect cases, the attorneys of Levin & Perconti have successfully settled and tried an overwhelming number of cases involving nursing homes who assume families will not come after them for injuries and death of their loved ones. We uncover histories of violations and offenses, including improper staffing ratios that lead to medication errors, falls, suffocations, wandering, elopement, pressure sores and many other unnecessary injuries.
Your loved ones should not have to suffer. If you believe someone you love has been the victim of mistreatment in a nursing home and has suffered injuries or even death, don’t wait until things get worse and please call us now at (312) 332-2872 or visit us online for a free consultation. We do not get paid unless we recover money for you.