The Los Angeles Times newspaper recently reported that the cornerstone to quality care in a nursing home is staffing. Those
with larger staffs tend to have less turnover, more stability and are
more likely to meet the needs of all the residents, according to the story.
some very persuasive data showing staff simply can't perform all of the
responsibilities they have unless there is an adequate ratio of staff
to residents," says the policy director for the National
Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, a reform-activist-advocacy
Homes should be staffed to provide at least 3
1/2 to four hours of care per resident in a 24-hour period, says the chief executive of the American Assn. of Homes and Services for
the Aging, a nonprofit organization that represents not-for-profit
elder-care facilities. Some may even offer four to five hours daily.
He recommends asking a facility how much care it provides to patients.
This information is also reported on Nursing Home Compare (it is
loosely tallied by dividing the number of hours worked daily by the
number of residents at the facility).
To assess staffing
levels, the executive director of California Advocates for
Nursing Home Reform recommends visiting at a time when a facility is
most likely to have maximum staff on duty (like at lunch, the biggest
meal of the day). Telltale signs of understaffing include diners with
food trays who are not eating because they are not receiving necessary
assistance, residents sitting idly in common areas or their rooms with
nothing to hold their attention, and call buttons going unanswered.
"If they don't have enough staff then, they won't late at night," she says.
during mealtime is also a good way to gauge food quality. Weight loss
can be dangerous to the elderly, so food should look and smell
Some of the more progressive homes have buffet
lines rather than the "school lunchroom program," in which residents
shuffle through with trays.
"Food is the most
looked-forward-to institution for many people, especially those
confined to a home," he says. "You should ask about snacks and what
kind of weight loss-weight gain program they have." For more, read the story.
Robert W. Carter,
Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to
protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted
living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg,
Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Wed, October 7, 2009
by Robert Carter