We have many people call us asking for advice on how to choose a nursing home. Many of the people seeking advice want to rely on Medicare’s star ratings. We are not convinced that these star ratings give an accurate assessment of a nursing home’s ability to provide good care. The ratings are primarily based on surveys and investigations done by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Well, the problem with that is DHEC tells the facilities when they are going to investigate or conduct a survey giving the facilities time to get their best nurses in the facility, to staff more than typical, and make sure all the documentation is revisited and changed if lacking.
When abuse or neglect is reported, the state’s investigations procedurally favor the facilities. Violations must be actually found in the facilities’ own documentation, which are very self-serving. We cannot rely on the state for enforcement of regulations that are designed to protect residents and ensure proper care.
The key to quality of care is competent, compassionate, and well-trained staff. They are less likely to get burnt-out and more likely to stay in the job thus lowering turnover rates which are detrimental to residents especially those with dementia. The reality often is that staff who complain about resident neglect don’t remain employed. Fortunately there are laws to protect workers from retaliatory firing, but many employees still fear losing their jobs by speaking up. Regulations exist to protect residents from neglect, but residents and employees fear retaliation. Many times families aren’t aware neglect is occurring. Facilities lie and cover up to protect themselves from liability.
There are no "good" facilities here. Unfortunately the best that one can hope for is "average" — with most "below average." It is tragic that our area does not have "above average" facilities available. We should be outraged. Our tax payer money is going to these facilities. instead of providing quality care and adequate staffing, the facilities send the money to "management" companies that are owned by the same people who own the nursing home and don’t actually provide any services.
Our community needs to make it less profitable for nursing homes to neglect our elderly. A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. At this time civil actions are the only effective solution. The state won’t do it.