How to Avoid a Bad Nursing Home for Your Aging Parent

by Dale on February 23, 2012

You may think you know how to avoid a bad nursing home.  From your shortlist of potential nursing homes, you review the state survey to see the number of deficiencies and rating by the state.  We’ve all heard that nursing homes undergo frequent review, and the process is rigorous.  So the state review indicates your nursing home of choice is a good one.  But, stop! You may be in for a rude surprise, and a dangerous situation for your aging parent.

I am going to share 2 recent situations here in South Bend, Indiana that made me feel compelled to write this article to save families and their loved ones from danger and heartache.  I will also share the extra due diligence you need to do be sure your aging loved ones will be safe, well cared for and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.  

The first situation I will share is about a local not-for-profit skilled nursing facility (nursing home.)  I have visited a severely disabled friend there for the last 3 years.  Nothing raised any concern for me.  In fact, the facility is held in high regard in our community.  When I arrived last week, my friend told me  there had been multiple allegations of abuse, the state had come in and interviewed residents, including her, and the Executive Director and Director of Nursing had been fired.

The really disturbing fact about this situation is that no one outside of those affected will know this situation unless it is made public by the state.  Other eldercare colleagues knew nothing of this situation and told me it’s likely the whole thing will be hushed up.  After the firings, an interim administrator was brought in, and as my disabled friend told me, there are a lot of unhappy employees who are frustrated and upset, and we all know what that does to the quality of care.  Patients in a nursing home are a captive audience.  They absolutely need the best of care all the time, and should not ever be subject some unhappy employee’s rant.

On to my second example of “poor nursing home.”  This has been written up in our local papers multiple times over the past year.  So, the situation is quite public.  I will share a bit, and then provide the link to this week’s most recent article.  This second facility has repeatedly violated state standards for resident care, but the current negotiation process with the state regarding their fines and licensing  could take six months or more to resolve!  This not minor stuff, some is life-threatening.

This entity has been cited  by the Department of Health more than 40 times in the past three years, including 15 times in November alone.  As I read the article, it greatly disturbed me that the directors and even CEO denied responsibility for the situation.  Do the leadership not feel a responsibility to do the “right thing”?  How did this facility get so out of control, and why is it taking the state 6 months and longer to resolve this situation?  How must the residents and their families feel?  What if a family has nowhere else to take their loved one?

The article indicates this facility is considering going from “licensed” to “unlicensed.” Then there will be no state oversight.  Let’s look at this hypothetical situation.  A family flies in from another part of the country, visits with the administrator, tours the facility, likes what they see and hear, and then are told the facility is unlicensed.  The administrator may justify the “unlicensed” decision to a desire to spend more time on resident care rather than paperwork for the state.  And, the uninformed family makes the wrong decision.  How sad!  To read the article in its entirety, click here.

I would like to hear from administrators.  Are the 2 situations I describe in this blogpost rare exceptions or is this happening around our country?  How can we protect our vulnerable elderly?  How can we help our families make the right decision and select nursing homes that are safe and caring environments for loved ones?

Here are my best tips to help you avoid a bad nursing home:

Families and administrators, let’s continue this conversation at our Facebook page, Transition Aging Parents.



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