A while back, you may recall that I wrote about the staff of a Long Island nursing home being indicted for the death of one of its residents, and the neglect of several more; recently, The Center for Public Integrity – a non-partisan, non-profit organization, based in Washington DC – published its report on the state of care homes in the US. Their findings make interesting reading, not least because they show that in a lot of cases, residents of nursing homes may not be receiving the level of care their families signed them up for.
Through comparison and analysis of homes’ Medicaid cost reports, and the self-reported staffing data which are submitted to the government website, Nursing Home Compare (NHC), the CPI was able to determine that claimed skilled staffing levels were, in some cases, 50% higher than actual levels.
Worryingly, the CPI found that over 80% of nursing homes, which appeared on the comparison website, had inflated their levels of registered nursing staff, and in more than a quarter of cases, nursing homes had claimed more than double their actual nursing staff. Over 700 nursing homes were found to have daily care levels lower than those required by their respective state laws.
In almost 100 peer-reviewed academic studies, experts agree that quality of care is inextricably linked to the amount of care by registered nurses that homes are able to provide. The lower the level of skilled care, the higher the likelihood of injury, neglect, and even death. Although the discrepancies that the CPI found were spread across all nursing positions, they were far higher for the most qualified (and highest-paid) staff, the registered nurses.
Referring to the discrepancies found in the self-reported data, director of public policy for the National Consumer Voice – a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group – Robyn Grant, said;
“We all recognize the data is flawed, but I am truly stunned by the findings and appalled that you’re finding this level of over-reporting”
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Rep. Jan Schakowsky also expressed her shock at the CPI’s findings, saying that the data found on the NHC site is indicative of ‘extreme overestimation’. She went on to say;
“Some families select what appears to be a high quality, well-staffed nursing home based on the self-reported data, only to learn after some avoidable complication or deterioration in their loved ones’ condition that the nursing home was understaffed”.
Ms Schakowsky is the author of a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which called for more accurate data to be transitioned by March 2012. Under the provision, nursing homes would be required to publish verifiable payroll-based information regarding its registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, and certified nursing assistant staffing levels, to the NHC website. To date, this still has not happened, although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said that it could happen by the end of 2016, if they receive $11m funding from bipartisan legislation.
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What all this means for families seeking to find the best possible care for their loved ones is that they are being lured by false pretences, and of course, the likelihood that fewer skilled staff means less care and attention shown to their elderly relatives.
If you are at all concerned about the level of care your parent or elderly relative is receiving while in a nursing home, or if they have been the victim of nursing home neglect, please don’t hesitate to call Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein LLP on 917-730-7151 to arrange a free consultation. Our expert nursing home neglect attorneys are here to discuss this distressing situation, and what action you may be able to take.