Watchdog group report reveals conditions that can lead
to nursing home abuse and neglect in New York. Receives an Overall Grade of “F”
When a loved one needs to take up residence in a nursing home, many aspects of care must be considered. Some of these issues might include the geographical location of the facility, will the relative or loved one agree to the move, the cost involved, and the reputation of the institution. All of these present their own spin concerning this important decision.
The standard of care being provided to your relative is bound to come in near the top of the list. Being a resident of New York State, can you be assured that your selection of a nursing home for your loved one is the best choice?
Unfortunately for many, the answer is a loud “NO.”
A nursing home advocacy group, Families for Better Care, compiled a score card of nursing home care for all 50 states, and New York was rated 45th out of all 50 states for overall care. According to Brian Lee, the executive director of Families for Better Care, the principle problem for New York state nursing homes is staffing levels. In fact, New York nursing homes rated a failing grade in every staffing category and is one of only five states that managed to pull off that miserable achievement.
Staffing levels are one of the basic criteria that can be used to assess the quality of care that a nursing home resident receives. The hours of care that a resident receives has been shown in a number of studies to be directly related to the quality of care that they are receiving, according to the New York Attorney General’s Office. Understaffing and unskilled staff members are the primary reasons for nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence in New York.
Although experts have not yet been able to agree on exactly what the minimum standards of staffing should be, some interesting data has been found. As an example, 98% of all nursing homes in the state of New York fall in an area where long-term resident’s quality of care begins to suffer, according to a federal study. When compared to the staffing levels in Florida, 70% of New York nursing homes have staffing levels that fall below Florida’s level and almost 40% do not meet California standards.
This overall grade held fast over 2013-2014, neither improving nor declining. When looking at the entire northeast region, New York was at the bottom of that list for quality of nursing home care too.
However, inadequate staffing levels are not the only problem. Ninety percent of all complaints concerning nursing home abuse and neglect in New York were confirmed by the state’s Ombudsmen. This category actually slipped from 43rd place last year to a new low of 45th place in this year’s report. These types of complaints could involve a wide variety of problems, including the resident’s right to privacy and dignity, the right to proper care, the right of having personal property, and the right to express their rights.
There was only one category where New York’s nursing homes were able to squeak out a “B” and that was the number of facilities with severe deficiencies. In this area, the state was able to move up from 17th place to 13th place since last year.
Other areas showed no improvement at all, such as, Direct Care Staffing Hours per Resident which held on to its “D” grade and 38th place. Another area that showed no movement was Professional Nursing Staff Above Average category. It was still listed with an “F” grade in 43rd place.
We offer the following specific examples of nursing home neglect, abuse and negligence in New York, all of which come from the New York Attorney General’s report.
The Chandler Care Center in Ossining, NY, was convicted in the theft of $400,000 in Medicaid repayments. During an inspection during the summer, most rooms were found to be unbearably hot because they were not air conditioned. In addition, water was not being provided to the residents on a regular basis.
A Schenectady nursing home, the Hallmark Nursing Centre, ran into problems with inadequate care for the residents. It was found that they suffered from pressure sores and reduced mobility. In the next inspection it was determined that pressure sores were receiving inadequate treatment, patient dignity was compromised, and medication errors were occurring. Staffing levels were found to be critically low. In 2001, registered nurses spent 4 minutes per day with each resident and records were falsified to hide the fact that unauthorized personnel were performing assessments.
Two Erie County nursing homes were found to be causing harm to their residents. The problems included improper administration of medications, inadequate treatment of pressure sores, and not providing toilet assistance to residents when required, further evidence of nursing home negligence in New York. A lack of staff was also found to be the case there.
Those with family members living in, or planning to move to a nursing home in New York should determine the quality of care being provided. No matter how highly rated, any long-term care facility could have lapses in care.