A few things I learned while writing about nursing homes
In the December/January issue of Frederick Gorilla (available online here), I wrote an article about nursing home safety in Frederick County. I got the idea for the story from Propublica‘s Nursing Home Inspect tool, but when I dug a little deeper, I found out a lot about how nursing homes are regulated.
You can read the article online here, but I decided to round up a few things I’ve learned while writing the article:
- Nursing homes can mess up – and often do – but it’s hard for them to continually be awful. If they want to keep receiving Medicare funds (which they do!), they have to develop plans of correction and be subjected to random inspections (in addition to the yearly inspection). If they fail to do so they go on a watch list and if they don’t improve they can not accept any new Medicare beneficiaries.
- Maryland, as a whole, has a pretty good nursing home industry. Frederick county is also doing pretty well.
- The industry is changing. No longer are the majority of patients living long term in nursing homes, they are instead moving in for an “episode of care” (say, rehabilitation) and then getting discharged home.
- There’s a lot of free services out there to help consumers find nursing homes. My favorite? A free consultation with the county ombudsman about selecting a nursing home that is suitable for your loved one.
- Along the same lines, check out the article for 10 questions to ask when interviewing a potential nursing home.