Push for Culture Change in Long-Term Care

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are over 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. While the Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987 to establish standards of care for nursing homes across the United States, allegations of substandard care, abuse and neglect still persist in long-term care facilities. A New York Times report notes that over 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety regulations in 2007.

In an effort to help the elderly and their families select the right nursing home, Medicare.gov launched an online tool to help consumers compare the quality and safety records of different long-term care facilities. The five-star rating system takes health inspection reports, staffing and other quality measures into account when factoring an individual facility's score.

According to a 2008 study conducted by the USA Today, the ranking system helped identify facilities that offered substandard care. The report notes that, on average, non-profit centers were likely to provide better care than those run on a for-profit basis. Twenty-seven percent of the over 10,000 for-profit nursing homes were one star, the lowest possible ranking, while 13 percent of non-profits carried the same ranking.

Giving Residents More Control Over Their Care

Due in part to the number of for-profit and non-profit homes providing below average care, advocates began pushing for a "culture change" in how nursing homes are run. The trend is to move away from the institutional model and move toward a model which gives residents more flexibility control over their lives.

According to a study by The Commonwealth Fund, the culture change movement promotes smaller facilities where residents are cared for by a consistent team as opposed to a hospital-like setting with a continuously rotating staff.

The study argues that residents are happier in this environment and the center benefits as well, from higher "staff retention, higher occupancy rates, better competitive position, and improved operational costs."

The Commonwealth report also found that there were resistance points to the change. Although cost was one of the primary factors, resistance from "senior leadership" was the most significant barrier to change.

Working With An Attorney

Despite the more towards a more patient-centered model, nursing home abuse and neglect occur with alarming frequency. Abuse can be physical, as well as mental and even financial in some cases.

If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected by nursing home staff or you see any potential signs of abuse, it is important to get help immediately. Working with an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse cases can help protect your loved one and hold those responsible accountable.