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Pick A Nursing Home with Care

By Bob Gatty.

The Trump administration is close to rescinding Obama-era protections for elderly nursing home patients and their families, once again proving that what’s important to them is protecting big businesses even at the expense of some of the most frail and vulnerable among us.

At issue is a regulation put in place under President Obama that prohibits nursing homes from forcing patients and their families to sign binding arbitration agreements, giving up the right to sue, as a condition of admission. The American Health Care Association, which represents the operators of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, last October sued the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking an end to the restriction, and in June praised CMS for rescinding it.

The comment period for the industry-backed proposal, which attracted strong opposition by advocates for consumers and seniors alike, ended in August. Once CMS reviews those comments, it will issue a final regulation, most likely making it impossible for nursing home patients and their families to sue nursing home operators in court should they fall victim to abuse or neglect.

Choose Carefully

That’s why it’s more important than ever to choose carefully when selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility for your loved one. With binding arbitration in place, the odds are stacked heavily against you in any effort to seek redress for abuse or neglect.

The website www.geriatricnursing.org has published a terrific guide that can be used for making such an important decision. Here are some of the key points:

What kind of facility to choose:

Assisted Living Facilities – apartment-style living if the degree of medical care provided by nursing homes is not needed.

Rehabilitation Centers – for short-term recuperative care for those in transition between facilities, such as from a hospital to a nursing home or other care facility.

Alzheimer’s Specialty Centers – for individual experiencing mid-to-late states of Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders.

Nursing Homes – for full-service medical care.

Key steps to take:

     • Visit with at least one existing resident to help evaluate the facility from the inside.

     • Don’t just rely on the guided tour.

     • Use visitation time to explore physical surroundings, including the facility’s cleanliness and hygiene of residents. Notice their physical appearance, including hair, nails and teeth.

     • Avoid restricted access facilities that only allow visitation with specific clients or access to common areas.

     • Notice odors of both the facility and residents.

     • Visit at various times during the day, evening and weekends – and during meal times. Notice the eating habits and conditions of residents fed in their beds.

     • Check to be sure fresh water is provided with clean cups in each room.

     • Evaluate the staff during various shifts and the availability of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Compare ratio of staff to residents.

     • Check the state survey, which is required by Medicare. Read it carefully, noticing any concerns relating to fundamental care.

     • Talk with family members of existing clients; ask about level of satisfaction or concerns.

     • Meet with the administrator and director of nursing. Find out how often patients are seen by the medical director.

     • Research a potential facility by contacting Medicare and Medicaid, which can provide copies of reports and inspections.

For more detailed information, including a discussion of financial considerations, please click here for the complete Geriatricnursing.org article.

Bob Gatty, a Carolina Forest resident, is Communications Coordinator for the Horry County Democratic Party. He can be reached at bob@gattyedits.com.

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