Nursing home horror stories abound, and everyone has likely heard some tale of seniors suffering neglect at a New York long-term care facility. It is for that reason that elder care advocates always suggest doing your homework before making a final decision about where to receive skilled nursing care.
One of the most well-regarding nursing home ranking system is the federal "Nursing Home Compare" website. The site lists most nursing homes and gives them a star rating, from one to five. The rating is based on health inspections, staffing levels, and various quality measures. As a general guide, browsing the rankings of all local New York homes is a very helpful way to get an idea of home performance.
However, can the star system be relied upon exclusively? Is admission to a home with four or five stars a guarantee that the care provided will be proper?
Beyond the Rankings
Unfortunately, neglect and mistreatment of residents occurs even at homes that seem to perform well on rankings. For example, recent reports out of the Medford Multicare Center for Living are startling and a vivid reminder of the problems rampant in many long-term facilities.
Last month, the New York Attorney General's Office filed suit against the home making allegations of chronic abuse and mistreatment of residents, with at least one resulting in death. Uniquely, the mistreatment has led to criminal charges (usually only civil suits are filed). At least seven employees at the facility are accused of crimes related to covering up some of the problems.
What is particularly alarming is the fact that as recently as last year Medford received four out of five stars on the Medicaid ranking system. This places the firm above average when compared with others. If Medford is above average, one shudders to think of what goes on at other facilities. Observers point out that the situation is a clear sign that ranking systems are inherently flawed in that they rely significantly on self-reporting. In addition, annual inspections may be lax, further distorting the reliability of these indicators
Do Not Rely on Others
One clear takeaway of this situation is the need for particularly careful analysis of nursing homes before making a selection, including on-site visits, discussions with staff, and talks with current residents.
Beyond that, however, an even more preferable situation is to avoid the need to move into a nursing home in the first place. Various options are available for many residents to receive alternative care. From long-term care insurance to special Medicaid programs, securing at-home support is usually the best option for New York residents. An elder law attorney can explain what steps you can take now to best position yourself to receive your preferred care if the need arises.