Debating the Nation's Top Nursing Homes

I just finished reading about the top nursing homes in United States ["10 Worst States for Top Nursing Homes," usnews.com].

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I just finished reading about the top nursing homes in United States ["10 Worst States for Top Nursing Homes," usnews.com]. Most are nonprofit, not part of a chain, and very small (50 beds or less). That tells me a lot. I've been an RN in nursing homes for over 30 years. I stayed in it because of the patients, not because I made lots of money, or the work was easy. I've fought many a battle with owners/corporations that say they want the best care, but are only willing to pay for a minimum number of staff and unskilled workers. Regulations need to be streamlined and the taxpayers should have their moneys worth! "Surprise" inspections are a figment of the imagination! All nursing homes know when their annual survey is due, and for that 1-3 month period, they beef up staff and enforcement of regulations. Only when the state surveyors are sent out on a complaint are inspections a surprise! Then the facility fixes that problem and the surveyors come back at a designated time to "re-inspect." Give me a break! I'm about to reach full retirement age, and I'll be out of it! God help the nursing home I end up in! I'll be a horrible patient! I know what's going on there!

Comment by J.P. of NC

I work in a nursing home. I love all the residents like they were my family. I take the very best care of them that I can. There are so many people in nursing homes who do not need to be there. If only their insurance which is usually Medicaid or Medicare would pay for those people to have someone come in and check on them. It would be a lot cheaper and better for all. Maybe the new president should check into this. We waste too many tax dollars paying for people in nursing homes that do not need 24-hour care. Residents at my nursing home do not get treated as well as they should because corporations that run it are trying to make as much money as they can by not giving the staff supplies that we need. Nurses have to spend way to much time on paperwork. It also never stops amazing me how low the pay scale is for us. We are dealing with America's family's here—human beings. People who handle boxes at factories make more than I do. All this just doesn't seem right.

Comment by Shannon Jones of IN

There is no need for me to wax long on this subject. Anyone who has had to take care of an elderly parent and then end up dealing with nursing homes can go on for hours about the horrors! My parents were treated very poorly while they were in a large nursing home. Reporting the abuse to state officials resulted in meetings, however, any improvements were short lived. The fact that the homes pay minimum wage seems to discourage decent people from working in this field. Many employees stayed only a short time before quitting without notice, which leaves the facility short handed most of the time! Both of my parents have passed now. I had hoped that things might have improved by now ... apparently not based on the reviews I just read. I checked out this article hoping to find good news. I live in the fear that one day, in the not-too-distant future, my husband or I will need assistance and be at the mercy of these vultures! Will there be any intervention? In the midst of a recession I see no help for our elderly. They are at the mercy of a very broken system!

Comment by C. Mestler of PA

I have been a social worker in a nursing home for 22 years. We provide care to the aged and infirmed because their family members are unable or unwilling to do so. We provide for every aspect of their care including emotional, spiritual and physical needs. It is easy to criticize nursing homes, but they do serve a purpose. There are of course homes that do not do such a great job. My facility has a staff of wonderful professionals who care deeply about their resident but have so many responsibilities that it is difficult to get everything done. There is so much paper compliance with Medicare and Medicaid that takes away from actual patient care. I love my residents and do all I can for them. I respect their wisdom and their fortitude in dealing with the difficulties with aging.

Comment by Suzanne Lazarow of NJ

I am a personal assistant/caregiver in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have non-medical needs for your family, consider hiring a caregiver to come in and take care of your family in addition to a medically trained person. There are a lot of people who are transitioning into this profession because of the economy. And with the aging population, this is one industry that they cannot "outsource." There are lots of lovely elderly people that need our help.

Comment by Beverly of CA

Sometimes there is little choice as to whether your loved one can be cared for at home. In the case of our father, there was no other option, as he had to have a feeding tube and total care, 24/7. At the same time our mother had to have almost as much intense care. A burden like this cannot be borne by a family in crisis. During the five years that our father was being cared for, we watched over him carefully, visiting at times as much as two or three times a day. It was not unusual to find him in dire circumstances. I could recite several devastating scenarios, but that is pointless here. What has to be done when your loved one must be placed in long term care is this: frequent visits, and establish communications with the care giving staff, as well as the administrative staff. It was necessary for us to move our parent near the end of his confinement, for the lack of consistent care. You have to keep your eyes open every minute in such circumstances.

Comment by Lelia of MO

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