What NOT to Expect From Skilled Nursing Homes

If you are placing a family member in a skilled nursing home, don’t expect your loved one to get personalized one-on-one care.  It just doesn’t work that way. Buzzers ring and residents wait, sometimes for long periods  of time. The administrators and staff will tell you all your loved one’s needs will be taken care of, as if they were at home.  It will never be the case.  It is the greatest myth propogated by the nursing home industry.

The most common complaint from families is their loved one’s aren’t changed when they have wet themselves as many are incontinent.  Even when they are visiting and asking someone to come, it can take a long time.  I have watched family members get very upset as we try to track down staff to help.  It can take up to 30 minutes or more sometimes to get someone in the room.  If you ask, why it took so long, the answer is usually, I had to take care of another resident.

Nursing homes are a very profitable industry.  The majority hire the amount of staff, RNs and CNAs required by state law. This usually means 2 LPNS and 1 RN with 3-5 CNAs for 20 residents. It is a rare institution that has more than required and ALL have less on weekends.  Why there are less on weekends with the same amount of residents makes no sense but it is the norm.  Private or family  owned nursing homes will tell you they provide more one on one care because they are not a corporation.  It is not true.

I had a client who’s spouse was in a nursing home, was incontinent and wandered at night.  The nursing home didn’t clean the resident regularly and hardly ever at night.  My client decided to hire a private duty aide to make sure the spouse was well taken care of.    The nursing home was not happy and kept saying they did provide the care needed.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t true.  It was clear they institution didn’t like to appear to not provide the care.

Any institution that says they can provide great one on one care is not painting a realistic picture.  It is important to know this going in.  Most state and Medicare laws require client calls/bells be answered in a certain amount of time.  But who is monitoring it?  I have told frustrated clients to speak with the Ombudsman or complain to the state.  Many won’t make those calls because of fear of retribution to a loved one.  I haven’t experienced that.  Ombudsman have the ability to stop Medicare reimbursements if necessary. Nursing home administrators don’t cross the Ombudsman.

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric from nursing home administrators and staff.  Believe what your eyes are seeing.  You must be vigilant about your loved receiving the best possible care.  It will never be like being at home.