In light of National Nursing Home Week, which was celebrated May 11-17 this year, it seems prudent to discuss some current issues facing nursing homes across the state of Texas. Texas has had it’s fair share of negative light shone on nursing homes across the state, but two violent attacks in Houston long term care facilities recently brought the subject back into the spotlight again.
Do Your Research on Nursing Homes
The brutal occurrences, which left two men dead and one critically injured, bring up yet again the issues of nursing home oversight, staffing levels, and the crucial importance of researching a nursing home before enrolling as a resident. When it comes to finding a good nursing home, looks can often be deceiving. Just because a facility looks nice on the outside, or maybe even on the inside, too, doesn’t mean there aren’t problems lurking below the surface. Unfortunately, some families find this out the hard way.
No matter how much research you do, it can be difficult to detect problems in nursing homes, but there are a few things you can do to help increase the chances that the facility you choose isn’t one of the bad apples. Whether it’s a lack of staff personnel or poor administrative oversight, some nursing homes face problems that can often pass down negative consequences to residents. Before you decide on a certain facility, make sure you take the time to look into various aspects of the facility to help you better understand the staff, administration, and quality of care provided.
Problems Facing Texas
Just last year, a nationwide Nursing Home Report Card was published and Texas ranked 51st, the absolute worst ranking possible. This ranking was based on a number of different measures including facility deficiencies, staff levels, and verified ombudsmen complaints. The report card, produced by a non-profit organization in Florida, highlights the extreme problems facing nursing homes across the state of Texas. The Lone Star state received a grade of F and was the only state to receive failing grades in 6 of the 8 measures.
According to the report, just over 94% of nursing home facilities in Texas have deficiencies and a little more than 16% were cited as having severe deficiencies. Texas also had the lowest percentage of nursing homes with an above average direct care staff rating, with just 19.68% of nursing homes qualifying under that measure. Because nursing home quality has been shown to be poor across the entire state of Texas, it is especially important for Texans to understand the best ways to research nursing homes and compare different ones to find the best available.
How to Compare Long Term Care Facilities
One way to gain some insider knowledge about the state of different nursing homes is to speak with your local long term care ombudsman. Ombudsmen are individuals who volunteer to help investigate complaints surrounding nursing homes and work with local organizations to help rectify the problems. They provide free services to family members and individuals interested in long term care. You can get in touch with your local ombudsman by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging, of which there are 28 in Texas.
Another way to compare nursing homes is to utilize the Nursing Home Compare online tool provided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. US News and Health Report also publishes an annual nursing homes ranking list compiled using data from the CMS website and other sources. You can view this year’s ranking list of nursing homes here and navigate through the ones specifically in Texas.
Besides doing research online, in-person research is another crucial tool to helping you get a better grasp of what is happening in nursing homes across Texas or in your area. If you are able, visit the nursing home yourself and walk around all the different areas of the facility. It’s best to visit nursing homes a number of times on different days. For example, you might want to make two visits during the week, one in the morning or afternoon and one at night. It is wise to do the same thing again on the weekend to get a good feel of how the facility operates and whether or not it is a good fit for what you are looking for.
When it comes to long term care, there are extremely important things at stake, including the safety, health, and wellbeing of either you or your loved one. Before committing to a specific nursing home, do your best to research, visit, and compare nursing homes so you can find the best one.