While senior centers spice themselves up for baby boomers, nursing homes often provide dangerous conditions for their residents. About 1.5 million Americans live in the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes, and life can be scary and void of dignity for this vulnerable population. In a report issued Monday, a federal investigator identified violations in over 90 percent of US nursing homes, finding that for-profit institutions are more likely to have problems. Some red flags included:
- Violations included infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and abuse and neglect.
- Seventeen percent of homes had deficiencies that caused actual harm or immediate jeopardy.
- Thirty-nine percent of patient complaints were substantiated.
- The investigator said the homes “have systematically failed to provide staff in sufficient numbers and with appropriate clinical expertise.”
- Some homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that “were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all.”
What can be done? To find out,
Homes with more staff to patients, which of course costs money, provide better care on average. Homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid must meet federal standards. In addition, one of the Bush administration's final actions will be to implement a five-star rating for the quality of nursing-home care this December. Sounds like well-off seniors used to staying in four and five star hotels won't have to do too much work to find comparable new digs. I hope investigations like these prevent the elderly from being victims of profit or greed.