Families for Better Care Inc.: The First Report Card for Nursing Homes

Families for Better Care Inc.: The First Report Card for Nursing Homes

nursing home report cardsHave you ever wished there was someone that rated the care in America’s nursing homes? Well, wish no longer. Families for Better Care, Inc., a non-profit citizen advocacy group based in Florida, has published the “first-ever state-by-state nursing home report card”.

This group is “dedicated to creating public awareness of the conditions in our nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care settings and developing effective solutions for improving quality of life and care.”

The group scored, ranked, and graded states on eight different federal quality measures:

  1. Percentage of facilities with deficiencies
  2. Percentage of facilities with severe deficiencies
  3. Direct care staffing above average
  4. Direct care staffing hours
  5. Health inspections above average
  6. RN hours
  7. RN staffing above average
  8. Verified ombudsman complaints

The best nursing home state in the country was Alaska; the worst was Texas. New Jersey ranked 15th, with an overall grade of B. According to Brian Lee, the executive director for Families for Better Care stated, “A distinctive trend differentiated the good states from the bad states.” He reported that nursing homes with higher levels of staffing ranked much higher.

Other key findings in this study are quite unsettling, to say the least:

  • Only seven states provided more than one hour of professional nursing care per resident per day.
  • Over 96% of the states offered residents less than three hours of direct care per day.
  • 90% of the nursing homes had one or more deficiencies.
  • In almost half the states, one in five nursing homes abused, neglected, or mistreated residents (this is probably the most shocking finding of all!)

The information on this website may be enlightening, or disheartening, to both plaintiff and defendant attorneys. It certainly shows that although some states, like Alaska, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire should keep up the good work, there are far too many states that need to take a serious look at what they need to do to provide better care to their residents. Staffing is a key issue.

Mr. Lee stated, “The data reflect what academicians, residents, and ombudsman have heralded for years; the higher the staffing levels, the better the care.”

The Medicare website also offers a wealth of information regarding nursing homes. It has a great resource for getting information about how good the care at individual nursing homes is, called Nursing Home Compare. It allows you to get information regarding specific nursing homes, including the results of their last on-site surveys and deficiencies. This can be found at http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. The Medicare site even includes a very detailed printable nursing home checklist to use if you are considering nursing home care for a loved one.

It’s truly heartbreaking to see that when a family makes the very difficult decision to admit a loved one to a nursing home, depending on the state, it is highly likely that they will not be well cared for. However, with advocacy groups like Families for Better Care and resources like those on the Medicare website, perhaps we will all be better educated in what quality care in nursing homes should be.

Jane Heron RN MBA LNCC is a legal nurse consultant employed by Med League.

Med League provides medical expert witnesses to trial lawyers. Please call us at (908)788-8227 or contact us today to discuss your next case.

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