At some time, many of us will have to make a decision on the care of a parent, grandparent, or other loved one in their old age. Some will have the time and resources to care for that loved one themselves or provide other in-home care to them. For the great majority of people, however, the only choice available will be to find a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility.
The experts at the Nursing Home Abuse Center say that when it comes to choosing a place to care for your loved one, you might want to consider a non-profit facility. Recent studies suggest that nursing home abuse neglect is more common in for-profit homes.
A new study published in the journal Gerontology suggests that patients and residents in for-profit nursing homes may face up to double the risk of developing health issues linked to sub-standard care than those living in non-profit facilities.
The research, conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health looked at the records of over 1,100 people over the age of 60 who had been discharged from Chicago area hospitals between 2007 and 2011. While the majority of these admissions had come from their own homes, 49 came from assisted-living communities, 369 lived in for-profit centers, and 61 lived in non-profit facilities.
The facilities then used an internally developed metric to assess whether the patients had endured harmful or neglectful treatment prior to their hospitalizations. The metric, called the Clinical Signs of Neglect Scale, adds additional weight to diagnoses that are commonly associated with neglect and abuse. These diagnoses include broken catheters or bed sores. In addition, less weight is assigned to diagnoses that are weakly associated with neglect like dehydration and malnutrition.
When it came to the results of the study, compared to low-functioning adults living in community dwellings such as their own homes or with families, those in for-profit homes showed more signs of abuse and neglect. The researchers went on to say that individual clinical signs of abuse or neglect rarely occur by themselves and past studies that only included individual signs likely underestimated the problem.
The lead researcher, Lee Friedman, said that what may be causing these problems is the way the money is handled at for-profit facilities. In these kinds of facilities, administrators in higher positions make more money. Those actually caring for the patients are often underpaid and overworked. With more patients to care for than time, this can lead to “low morale” among staff members, and care suffers.
To combat this problem, Friedman says that more oversight is the key. He also called for more screening and reporting of neglect and abuse injuries. More training for enforcing these measures along with more staffing is also key.
When it comes to choosing a facility for your loved one, one of the best things that you can do is to check the facility’s ratings online and visit the facility yourself in person to see for yourself the kind of treatment residents receive.