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Over 90 Percent of Nursing Homes Violate Safety Standards

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.


Join The Conversation
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Awful. I recently had to write a letter to the head of the facility my great grandmother is living in concerning some terrible conditions. We don't pay good money for her to just be forgotten. It's amazing what can be done when you copy the Dept. of Health on an angry letter...
liliblu liliblu 8 years
Thank you Roarman. My grandfather is in an assisted living facility. He lives in another state. All of my family in that state work. My grandfather's mind is sharp but he is no longer able to walk and has trouble lifting one of his arms. He also had a minor stroke. He does not like being there and we hate that we can not afford the round the clock care he would need to stay at home. But he is not neglected. My aunt knows every nurse and attendant in the facility. She visits almost daily. My uncle's wife comes by and gives him a shave every Sat.(he has to have a smooth face when he heads to church). My aunt brings him a suit to wear to church each week. His church sends a van for him every Sunday so he can attend service and hang with all the other deacons. All of his friends phone numbers are programed into his phone. We make trips to see him as often as we can. Almost all of his kids were with him on his birthday and through out that weekend. My uncle stops by and has lunch with him if he's working in the area. Is at as good as his being able to be at home? No. But he is not neglected. There are lot of families like mine that simply do the best they can.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
It is so scary! I feel so bad for these people. I used to know someone that worked at a nursing home in a very small town, and she would practically have to beg and threaten the other nurses to do their jobs. It really is just tragic...the neglect is so wide spread.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
"Unfortunately, Many middle class families aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do that." Are you aware of what is actually necessary to keep aged, ill parents at home with you? Full time around the clock care is not something that most families are able to do. Not just because of the cost but because of the time involved. Most families aren't able to have someone stop working to care for an elderly parent. Then you add on responsibilites of taking care of young children and it's not manageable. Putting a parent into a nursing home is not an easy decision and most families do not go into it lightly. To assume that families are simply tossing their elderly parents into a home because it is what is easiest for them or they weren't "willing to make the sacrifices necessary..." is just ridiculous. Maybe we should focus on why these facilities, which charge upwards of $10,000 per month, can't provide even a basic level of care. WHo is holding them responsible?
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I completely agree with downtownbrown. I had to laugh at "willing to make the sacrifice" - when I think of the sacrifices my parents were willing to make for me, nothing could be comparable except for me to make sure they are not put into a nursing home, which they have expressed to me is something they would never want to happen to them.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
kia, No disrespect, by my experience has been that it is best to invest in family. I will never forget the 98-year-old police seargent, laying in his shit filled diaper, screaming for help from the undersaffed nursing home, and me being able to do nothing but write up a report. This guy had 12 children, none of them that visited him on a regular basis. The staff, of course, was useless. He didn't have all of his marbles, but he spoke to me with his eyes as I held his hand. I can only wish that we can learn from this. We are all aging, and this may be our future.
kia kia 8 years
The way our elderly and those needing assistance is disgusting. I have always known this and was not too thrilled when my estranged mother asked me to help her find a short-term facility for my stepfather following surgery recently. I used some online reviews of facilities based on staff:patient ratios, violations, substantiated complaints, etc. Those were just numbers... I knew no matter what happened he would not be happy until he was home. I flew out to see him a few times and the crap I saw on a few visits was not cool and it was really sad knowing he was only there a short time unlike many of the other patients that were there long-term and did not receive visitors. Invest in LTC insurance as soon as you can. As the financial advisor, David Bach, recommends... women generally deal with these situations disproportionally when compared to men when it comes to dealing with family in need.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Years ago, I worked as an ombudsman for the elderly. I had seven nursing homes that I visited on a weekly basis. This article doesn't even begin to address the heartbreaking treatment that our elders experience. One of the facilities was absolutely beautiful in appearance, yet had some of the worst care in the state. It is truly nauseating what our seniors are forced to endure in their later years. I will make any sacrifice possible before I put my aging parents in that sort of environment.
briglass briglass 8 years
Yet another example of the "free market" failing a large segment of the population. These people don't have a lot of money, but they have a lot of dignity, history, perseverance and wisdom. In many ways they ARE America, yet they are tossed to the side. It's pathetic.
outofhere outofhere 8 years
Unfortunately I'm not surprised about this but it's horrifying to think about! All of us will get old, sooner or later, is this what we have to look forward to?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Super sad. I worry a lot about this, for my parents and for me.
downtownbrown downtownbrown 8 years
"aren't willing to make the sacrifices" wow, um most parents I know were more than "willing to make the sacrifices" necessary to take care of their kids when they were young & in need of assistance. People need to remember that when they decide to lock their parents away in a "home" somewhere. You cant trust a stranger to care about your family like you do.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Tadow, the scary thing is that even when you can afford to do something like that for your loved one, there are nurses and caretakers that have become abusive. It's just so sad, I wish there were easy solutions to things like this.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
It would be great to be able to afford to take care of our grandparents. Unfortunately, Many middle class families aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do that.
This is why, when my grandmother was dying, the whole family took an economic hit by hiring a nurse to be with her and set her up at home. We just don't trust nursing homes. Trust me people, if you can take care of your loved ones, please do. You can't expect for anyone to care for your family the way you do.
janneth janneth 8 years
These are beautiful people who deserve the best.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
This disgusts me. Our society treats the elderly like cast aways it sickens me to the core. I'm so mad right now. This is precisely why we did not put my mother in a care facility because we didn't trust them. There should...there must be federally (enforced) guidelines. When it became apparent that my mother's needs where multiplying and my fathers ability to provide them couldn't keep up. The six of us stepped in. I quit my job and lived at my folks for six months and my older brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews all pitched in too. However, not everyone has the luxury of a large family with so many resources. Our decision was a good one for my mother. However, the sacrifice did take a great toll on all of us primarily emotionally. Although Momma was kept far away from any family strife I observed arguments over her care slowly take it's tole on my family and by the time she passed we who were once whole and united were slit and cut with emotional scars that ran deep. It is a tragedy I wouldn't wish on anyone. Care facilities shouldn't just be 5 star but humanly standard so that all families regardless of economic position can have the assistance they need and can trust so that they will have peace of mind their loved one is being treated with dignity.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
This is so sad. It's almost as if the younger generations forget that these are people. Not just people, but adults who have lived through more than most of us can imagine. It is a shame that for the most part and in a best case scenario, they are treated like children. And in worse case scenario's they are treated like animals. It is really sad.
dreamsugar dreamsugar 8 years
That's sad news
stephley stephley 8 years
"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." The trouble is, the government and states set standards, then cut budgets so there aren't enough inspectors to determine if those standards are being met. It's tough for elderly people and their families to get anyone to pay attention to their complaints. And it's very expensive to care for elderly people, so a four or five-star facility will likely be out of reach for most people.
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