My thanks to a CNA from Arkansas who shared following about the overwhelming burden of nursing home work. We applaud her courage for speaking out and sharing her story! Out of a sense of social justice, changes must come to the nursing home industry. The voices of persons who, like this CNA, know from the inside about the problems within the nursing home industry, can help lead to significant changes when their story is shared. We are glad to share her story, as painful as it is (on many levels)…

“I’m a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) with 10 years of experience. I love helping people and that is why I picked this career.

I’ve only worked in nursing homes and have to say everyone of them had staffing problems. I’m always exhausted by the end of my shift and yet I’m not even 30 years old. Many days I feel like I’m one of the older people I take care of. This job has worn me down: I have chronic lower back pain along with arthritis in my back.

I’m a struggling single mom with hopefully many years ahead of me. But when anyone tells me they are thinking of being a CAN, I tell them don’t do it! The nursing homes don’t care about how they work the CNAs and the nurses seem to only know how to put more work on you. This is a bad business to get into if you value your back and knees, not to mention the employment benefits are almost non-existent. After a decade of working as a CNA in Arkansas I only make $9.00 a hour!

Arkansas desperately needs to change state regulations regarding nursing home staffing levels! If things don’t change in a big way and soon there will be no CNAs to take care of anyone because most of us are injured or just plain worn out! The past generations of CNAs just took the crap, while this generation knows change has to be made. I can’t keep quiet and do my job anymore it is literally killing me from the inside out.”

A CNA (most of them are females) in Arkansas who has a decade of experience is making $9.00 per hour, while the CEO’s of many for-profit nursing home corporations (many of which are men) are easily earning over $1 million per year! This is criminal, not to mention obscene. Oh yeah, and more than a little bit sexist!

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If you are a resident of Kentucky, this urgent request is for you! Nursing homes in the Commonwealth are again attempting to obtain special protections from being sued. They will do anything to protect their billion-dollar industry from being held accountable, and Kentucky Senate Bill 6 is this year’s attempt to shield themselves from being held financially accountable for abuse and neglect of the residents entrusted to their care! SHAME on these greedy corporations and the Corporate Whores who protect them by their lobbying efforts!

UPDATE: Senate Bill 6 PASSED last week (early February) in the Kentucky Senate Health & Welfare Committee. Thankfully it looks to be headed for defeat AGAIN in the Kentucky House! But to assure it’s defeat in the House (so it can’t be signed into law by the Governor), your helps is STILL NEEDED: Please contact your Kentucky State Representative! They NEED to know your thoughts NOW on the proposed legislation dealing with this important matter! Ask your legislator today to vote NO on Senate Bill 6. You can follow this link to find your senator if you don’t know who your senator and representative are: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/county.htm Once you know their names, call the Capital Annex and leave a message for him/her at 502-564-8100. Again: VOTE NO ON SENATE BILL 6 — because nursing homes are not entitled to special rights!

What you dear readers write offers some of the most compelling reasons to not trust the nursing home industry. I thought my late mother had it bad, but your loved ones (and you as a family member of a nursing home resident) have also truly suffered! What follows is the heart-wrenching account involving a lady who passed away while a nursing home resident in Texas. A grieving daughter shares…

R.I.P. Dear Texas Lady

R.I.P. Dear Texas Lady

“I went to visit my mother on Sunday February 16, 2014. I was stopped by a nursing home employee who worked on the hallway where my lived. She told me that my mother was no longer there. At first I thought she meant they moved her to a different room. Then I was getting upset because I thought she had been sent to the hospital without myself or any of my siblings being notified. The employee informed me that my mother had passed away!

I am so hurt and angry! My brother (who had arrived by this time) asked a supervisor why we hadn’t been notified of our mother being sent to the hospital or even of her passing? His excuse was they did not have the correct contact information. This was not true at all since just one month before (in mid-January) my family had a meeting with the nursing home administrator and my mother’s doctor. During this meeting my phone number and the phone numbers of all of my brothers had been shared and verified. If nursing home staff would have looked through my mother’s chart they would have found my number (and the numbers of all of her other children)!

When we asked nursing home staff where our mother’s body had been taken and where we could find her belongings, we were told they could not tell us. They said her chart and belongings were locked up and we would have to wait until the next morning to even find out what hospital they sent my mother to!

What we found on our own, without the help of the nursing home staff, was that instead of sending out my mother to a hospital just a 15 minutes drive from the nursing home, they sent her to a hospital that was nearly a 40 minute drive. It turned out that our mother had been admitted to a hospital two weeks prior to discovering she had passed away! Two weeks and NO word from the nursing home about her need to be hospitalized! She passed away five hours after she was transferred from the nursing home to the hospital.

I will never get closure from this. I will never get to tell my mother goodbye. My mother died alone. My mother had family and children that loved and adored her. We need answers and justice.”

I’m sitting at my desk sobbing while I read what I just posted. If this doesn’t make you angry at the outrageous injustice that nursing homes in this country get away with regularly I don’t know what will! Texas, where this lady passed away, has a state law making it almost impossible to sue nursing homes. Several state legislatures are currently considering such heinous laws. Nursing homes mush be held accountable for their evil and laws to protect them from accountability should never see the light of day.

I get a laugh from the thankfully fairly small percentage of comments readers of this blog leave that include an observation like, “Not all nursing homes are bad. The ones I’m familiar with provide excellent care.” My response to these comments is, “So? Just because you aren’t familiar with pathetically bad nursing homes doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” The other thing I want to tell these nursing home apologists is, “WHERE does this blog even suggest that all nursing homes are bad?” Since NursingHomeReality doesn’t make such a claim these comments are little more than a smoke screen used to deflect the reality that nursing home care in many facilities located within the USA is a major embarrassment and a pathetic sham.

Don’t believe the claims I make about nursing home neglect and abuse of residents, let alone the problem of corporate greed within the nursing home industry? Then look on the left side of every page of this blog. That’s where you’ll find my Twitter feed. Most of my “Tweets” include links to news articles that focus on the serious problems with many nursing homes in this country! Disagree with me all you like, but now your disagreeing with professional journalists? Please. Get a grip on reality!

Don’t believe the details posted on this blog that highlight short staffing and other problems caused by corporate greed and deception? That’s belief is really pathetic. You see many of the serious complaints about nursing home care posted on this blog were written by current and former nursing home employees. Insiders and whistleblowers know much more than any outsider about the many serious problems with nursing home care.

The fact is, was and sadly will continue to be that the problems discussed on this blog are very real. To deny otherwise is beyond ridiculous.

One of my favorite quips I see posted regularly on social media websites describes a reaction one can have to something that is offensive — whether in poor taste or is otherwise obnoxious. Pardon my posting this phrase, since it describes something that is not pleasant, but it goes, “I think I just puked a little in one of the corners of my mouth!”

Earlier today I got a message from a self-identified holder of a “PhD” degree who claims to have worked for the nursing home industry for many years. She was attacking this website and me personally (Why is it that ONLY persons who receive a paycheck from the nursing home industry attack my website? Imagine that! Oh wait, some of the strongest defended of this website are persons who currently or previously worked for the nursing home industry. Fascinating!). All of her comments were pathetic, but one was particularly troubling. She claimed that the nursing home industry isn’t paid enough by Medicaid (the government health insurance program that pays for most nursing home care in this country). This totally false claim really did make me want to PUKEa little in one of the corners of my mouth!” Allow me to set the record straight. Allow me to shed some light on what I call a “double-sided lie” spread by “Ms PhD” and other paid mouthpieces for the obscenely rich for-profit nursing home industry.

When it comes to for-profit nursing homes (and the corporations that own them) they ARE making money and NOT losing money. They ARE making an obscene profit off of Medicaid, Medicare, private pay and all other forms of payment they accept!  How do I know they are making money and earning a profit, despite the horribly pathetic level of “care” many for-profit nursing homes provide?

DO THE MATH! It is a matter of public record than many nursing home CEOs have annual salaries and benefits in excess of $1 Million! If they can offer that kind of compensation to even one of their corporate executives, they are making money hand over fist!

Again I say: DO THE MATH! Since it also a matter of public record, you can discover for yourself how many hundreds of thousands of dollars these corporations are donating to state and federal politicians year after year! You should also factor in the salaries and benefits of their “corporate whores” (Sorry, I meant to type “lobbyists”) who work for them year round to pressure legislators to support their self-centered political agenda!

The nursing home industry earns lots of money.  They have obscenely huge profits. This is the absolute truth.

The other side of this truth about the for-profit nursing home industry is that the spending I’ve pointed out indicates a clear pattern of mis-spending of your tax money (and that of their self-pay residents and that of the residents who have private insurance). Too much money is spent on feeding their greed and influence peddling that they can’t afford to adequately care for their residents!

So the real problem is NOT that they aren’t compensated enough, but that they desperately need to have appropriate priorities for how they spend your/our money! They are totally out-of-control and that’s why we must pro-actively suggest and support legislation that forces them to spend more of their money where it really should be spend that allows for proper resident care. This properly-focused spending begins with spending more money for nursing staff (nurses and CNAs)!

In a nutshell: When the caregiver is “for-profit” the level of care suffers…especially without appropriate government-sanctioned regulation. If ever an industry needed such regulating, it is the nursing home industry!

agendaNearly every state’s legislature begins their 2014 session this month. So January is the appropriate month to offer my five point agenda for nursing home reform. I believe that these five points can, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers and to nursing homes, help improve the quality of the care provided to residents.

Suggestion #1: Have each state mandate an INCREASE in the percentage of inspections (commonly referred to as “surveys’) that MUST take place outside of regular business hours on weekdays. This standard should apply to both annual inspections (inspections the state conducts approximately once each year at all licensed nursing homes) as well as to surprise inspections (these are inspections that take place in response to complaints the state receives about a particular nursing home.

In most states a minimum of 10% of nursing home annual inspections must begin at night or on the weekend. That means that 90% of inspections are likely done during 23% of time that accounts for regular weekday business hours. I believe that if state law would mandate a minimum of 25% – 33% of inspections begin on weekends and during hours when administrators are not normally at work the inspectors would get a more accurate view of the low quality of care that goes on in nursing homes on weekends, 2nd and 3rd shift and on holidays — the times when administrators are rarely on the job.

As a family member of a nursing home resident, it was “after hours” that my mother experienced the worst neglect by her caregivers. These are the hours when staffing levels are usually at their lowest and when management isn’t present to see for themselves what’s going on.

Suggestion #2: Require management personnel to work staggered shits ALL THE TIME, not just when state inspectors are in their building. In large facilities that have an Assistant Administrator (or equivalent position), the state should mandate that the Administrator and their assistant must not be allowed to work identical shifts. I believe the state should require that the shifts for management can not overlap more than four hours per day (Example: Administrator works 8:00am – 4:30pm, while the Assistant Administrator is scheduled to work 12:30pm – 9:00pm).

The majority of nursing homes are too small to be able to afford an Assistant Administrator. Yet even these facilities MUST have a full-time Director of Nursing on staff. In these nursing homes the same “staggered shifts” rule should be in place for the Administrator and Director of Nursing.

Why suggest this legislative mandate? For much of the same reason that I made my first suggestion: after management is out of the building the quality of care given often suffers. As the cliche goes, “When the cat is away, the mouse will play!” And “play” they often do (e.g., taking excessive smoke breaks, ignoring call lights, talking on their personal cell phone instead of checking on or responding to their residents). One third shift nursing staff member at an Indiana facility where my mother lived admitted to me that she “preferred” to work overnight so “the big shots” couldn’t get in her way of doing her job the way she wanted to do it. Scary! One of CNAs who worked with this individual on third shift shared with me that this nurse took an average of seven (7) smoke breaks — OFF THE UNIT — PER HOUR! This clearly would not be allowed by either the state inspectors or sane nursing home management — but how could the state or management know this was problem existed if they aren’t in the building at at times other than when management is in the building? Residents with dementia are likely incapable of reporting such problems. Family members can’t stay with their loved one 24’7 non-stop to monitor the situations. Placement of a “Granny Cam” inside the room is incapable of documenting problems that take place outside of the resident’s rooms (example: documenting a lack of staffing at the nurse’s station caused by staff taking an excessive number of smoke breaks).

If it is impossible to have management in the building 24/7, then the state should mandate their presence a minimum of 12 hours per day on non-holiday weekdays and 4 hours (or more) per day on holidays and weekends.

Suggestion #3: When the state shows up for an any type of inspection (annual or in response to a complaint) the inspectors (a/k/a “surveyors”) should IMMEDIATELY seize payroll data (before it can be altered) to verify staffing levels for the 14 continuous days immediately prior to the inspection. With this information in hand, inspectors should have the legal authority to insist that while they are in the building that the staffing level can NOT exceed the average staffing level for the previous 14 days.

Why do I believe this issue requires a legislative intervention? Because calling in off-duty nursing staff during an inspection or even bringing in temporary employees is one of the biggest (and most deceptive) things nursing home management does to make it appear that resident needs are being taken care of in a timely and appropriate manner — when the reality is that they aren’t being responded to in either a timely and/or appropriate manner when the state inspectors are not around. “Putting on a show” for state inspectors should be against the law! Inspectors should see and judge the quality of care based on the REALITY of ACTUAL staffing levels.

Suggestion #4: Pass legislation that prohibits nursing homes from either outright banning or limiting visits of residents by their family and friends. Once  nursing home staff identify a resident’s family member(s) or friend(s) as a “trouble maker” (e.g., that we really have the courage to report their facility to the state, as is our LEGAL RIGHT AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DO) then you can count on the facility to begin devising schemes to make it look appear that we are the bad guy, thus justifying prohibiting (or at least limiting) our visits. Some facilities have even limited visits from family and friends from taking place on the unit where the resident resides — allowing, for instance, visits to only take place in the lobby. This way family and friends can’t observe the substandard care the resident is receiving, thus preventing them from being able to observe (and thus report to the state) problems with care.

Attempts to prevent family and friends from visiting nursing home residents (when no harm is being caused to the resident as the result of the visit and when the resident wants to receive visits from such individuals) is clearly a violation of nursing home resident’s civil rights! We activists must get through to these corrupt nursing home owners and managers that their facility is the HOME of the resident and therefore the SAME rights of visitation residents had at their house, apartment on condo apply inside the nursing home facilityStrongly worded legislation is clearly the only hope we have to prevent nursing homes from taking their residents hostage!

Suggestion #5: We need legislation that will mandate increased fines against nursing homes that are found guilty of abusing resident’s rights, especially with regard to forcing residents to move to another facility. Many nursing home residents find themselves being forced out of their facility as retaliation against the resident or their family for sticking up for their rights. This type of abuse of resident’s rights must stop! It is truly a twisted, dysfunctional way of thinking when a nursing home’s only way of handling it’s problems is to punish their residents (or the resident’s family) by forcing the resident to leave their facility. How many residents must suffer “eviction” before a facility is finally forced to look inside itself and make the changes needed to resolve their real problems?

How can you help to make these five changes happen within the state where you reside? Contacting your state legislators would be a good start. Also request the support of your local or state Long-Term Care Ombudsman to help promote this reform agenda. If your area or state doesn’t have a nursing home reform organization then start one! I’ll be glad to help you start and promote such an organization.

I believe that together we CAN make meaningful, important and positive changes take place within the nursing home industry. While the industry clearly has the big bucks to spend on maintaining the status quo, we have more than enough individuals on our side to make change HAPPEN!

Many of us family members of nursing home residents have been told one (or many) lies by nursing home administrators and/or other staff members. What ever became of honesty? Whatever became of ethical behavior? Whatever became of honest chart notes? Whatever became of telling the truth at all costs? These virtues have long disappeared from most nursing homes when it comes to employee behavior.

Some of the lies we’ve heard are fairly subtle, like when you call your loved one’s nurses station and the first thing out of the mouth of the nurse who answers the phone is a line like, “I just came from your mother’s room and she is doing really well!” Did the nurse really just leave your parent’s room just before you called to check on them? Probably not. If they did that would be great. But if they didn’t? That would be a lie.

I can’t tell you how many times nursing home Administrators, Directors of Nursing and Nurses — even one nursing home owner — promised to fix a problem I had pointed out. Only to NOT have fixed the problem or to have only managed to fix the concern for a few days or a few weeks before the problem returned. Wow. These folks know how to tell us what they believe we want to hear, but what about the follow through? Nothing like the line I’ve heard many times from Administrators that goes, “Well I can’t fix a problem if I don’t know it exists.” Really. OK, I told you. The problem either didn’t get fixed or didn’t stay fixed. Yeah, I can really trust you. Not!

womantakingwrittennotesSo what can be done to confront the nursing home employees who lie? Probably the best thing we can do is DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Yes, it will take work and a little money to accomplish proper documentation (the cost of one or more notebooks and the cost of an ink pen), but these investments are well worth it if/when the time comes to call in the state to deal with a problem that doesn’t get fixed (a problem they promised — or promised repeatedly — to fix). When you call the state you’ll need to refer to your notes to establish that the problem was called to the attention of nursing home staff. You’ll need to verify how long the problem has been going on and the times and dates you informed nursing home staff about the problem.

Summary: Good nursing home documentation regarding care concerns should always include 1) a description of the problem, 2) the name/position of who you spoke to about the problem (You don’t know their name? Ask them for their name! Many states require that all caregivers wear a name tag at all times they are on duty. If they aren’t wearing a name tag, report that as well!), 3) when (day and time) you spoke to nursing home staff about the situation (EACH time you speak to staff about your concern) and 4) a summary of the response from nursing home staff to the information you shared.

Suggestion: While you may want to save your documentation on a digital device (e.g., a computer, tablet or a digital voice recorder), remember that data stored on any device can be lost! So if you use any sort of digital device to make a record of your documentation, be sure to PRINT OUT EVERY BIT OF YOUR DOCUMENTATION and KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE in case you lose your digital data!

Another important reason to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT your conversations with nursing home management and staff goes back to the subject line of this journal entry: these people don’t tend to be oozing with honesty! So covering your tracks (and your conversations) when dealing with nursing home staff is in your best interest.

I know personally of occasions when a nursing home Administrator and a Director of Nursing LIED in their notes about what either I had told them and/or what they told me! I had a decent memory to be able to defend myself, but I really wish I would’ve had good written notes to better be able to defend myself. I know nursing home management constantly document their conversations with family members, friends and their own staff. With our own documentation available we can rest assured that one honest record of what happened will exist!

Are all nursing home staff members (or owners) pathological liars? Of course not. Many are honest individuals. Some lie only because they know that their bosses expect them to lie in order to protect the facility from lawsuits, state inspections, fines imposed by the state and other sanctions. Kudos to the brave nursing home staff members who have told the truth and paid the consequences for being honest — often times losing their job. An industry that rewards liars and persecutes honest people is in serious need for major reform!

Here’s another unsolicited testimony from a nursing home staff member who lost her job for doing the right thing by caring for her residents and being ethical in the area of maintaining medical records for residents. This nurse (an LPN) from Kentucky writes…

“I’m so glad I found this blog. I too have experienced some of the horrors detailed in several of these postings. I am a licensed nurse with well over 12 years experience. I began my health care career working as a Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA) for more than 20 years.

While working for a nursing home in Kentucky for more than a decade I truly loved my job, my residents and my co-workers. I began as a CNA for this company, and after a while, the administration thought enough of me to send me to school to become a nurse on a scholarship program. I worked as a CNA, a floor nurse, a unit manager, and eventually a “MDS nurse“. MDS nurses are responsible for assessing patients and billing Medicare and Medicaid.

I always felt good about the care I delivered to my residents, but as time went on and the company had been bought out, things began to change. Profit became the main concern and the care we provided declined dramatically. The local nursing home ombudsman proved to be of no help as this person was friends with the administrator. They even attended the same church.

I’m certain someone tipped off the administrator just before State Surveyors would arrive to inspect our building. Why would I say this? Because our administrator NEVER arrived for work before 8:00am any day of the week UNLESS an inspection was imminent. I reported this issue to the state ombudsman only to be scolded for calling into question “the morals and ethics of this fine woman” (the local ombudsman).

Several cases of abuse were covered up or barely investigated without anyone ever held accountable. One of my co-worker and I reported some findings we discovered while assessing patients as part of our job duties. We immediately reported these findings of neglect that directly caused the deaths of three residents to the Director of Nursing and the Administrator. Our concerns were met with defensive comments, such as ‘We are covered…we contacted the MD’, etc. The nursing home staff had ignored severe signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in three elderly patients, two of them went without any testing for over three weeks. These concerns had been reported to the Director of Nursing and administrator several times. Eventually proper treatment were given to these residents, but by the time they received treatment, they had become septic which contributed to their death. If the nursing home does too much testing for UTIs, it makes their infection control reports look bad on the public websites. So in essence, they ignore the symptoms and refuse to test! Three weeks after reporting our findings in these resident’s charts, my co-worker and I were both without jobs. We were told we were “not good team members” and were let go.

I have no recourse at this point as I am not considered a whistleblower, as I basically blew the whistle after I was fired. I was trying to get the administration to understand that we, as a company, had a problem that needed to be addressed. A sad, sad situation for all involved.

I have trouble sleeping thinking I should have stepped up sooner. I contacted Kentucky’s Office of Inspector General who seemed to take my complaint seriously, but after going to investigate,the Surveyors were told to write a few small tags, with no fines or oversight involved. The nursing home got away with everything, and I simply don’t understand how this is allowed to happen. This company is now involved in several lawsuits and one of them involves the family of one of the residents I complained to the administration about. I hope to one day find a company that will appreciate a strong patient advocate as I have no plans to change who I am!”

It would seem, sadly, that the definition of a “good team member” within the nursing home industry is a reference to a person without a conscious, without integrity and without the courage it takes to do the right thing. That’s a “team” that must go away!

I received the following comment this past week from a  Nursing Home Administrator (NHA) who is now between jobs. She has worked as an administrator at eight facilities in six years. She tells us that the punishment for being a good administrator (Wait, doing a good job is something folks are being punished for? Yes. This is usually the case in the dysfunctional world of nursing homes!) is to be fired. She writes…

“I am one of the good administrators who have been lied on by staff and supervisors alike when I’ve held them accountable for doing their jobs, which in turn has cost me mine, and perhaps my career. If I have to hear one more time that “You are not a good fit”, I’ll just scream! The truth is, they are right, I’m not a good fit for the corrupted nursing home culture I’ve been subjected to. If anyone’s having difficulty understanding my point, just read the comments throughout NursingHomeReality blog.

I’m contemplating not pursing another NHA position. I am not one to sit back and do nothing and allow residents to be mistreated, neglected and/or abused. After so many terminations, I am now seen as a “job-hopper”, so companies don’t want to hire me. The saddest part is that I am well educated and professional. I have a military background and great leadership skills. I am honest, and pride myself in treating others the best I possibly can.

When a former supervisor verbally attacked two of my nurses; I asked him not to, and to speak with me about his concerns. I would in turn, speak with the nurses. Up to this point, I was so good at my job that the supervisor never visited the building because he liked my work and knew I had things under control. After our talk, suddenly, he came to the building unexpectedly and told me “you are not a good fit, and your services are no longer needed”.

On another occasion, a company rewarded me for a job well done in one of their nursing homes by moving me to another one so I could repeat the process. My position ended there after about four months after some staff rendered false reports to the corporate office. Even after the Human Resources department conducted an on-sight investigation that didn’t find anything wrong with my job performance — in fact I was encouraged to keep up the good work — my immediate supervisor was sent in following more complaints just three weeks later. Although her investigation turned up nothing, she informed me that she and the corporate office had made the decision to remove me. The stories are endless.

Now, here I sit near the completion of a doctorates degree unemployed and career ruined all because I tried to do the right thing by residents, their families; by the staff and all else involved. I tried to be the Administrator I was licensed to be by the nation and the state in which I worked. I am the type of administrator that people on this blog would appreciate. I face financial ruin and really don’t see anything getting better for me on the job front. In fact, no one in any industry will want to hire me with a “job-hopper” soaked resume.

The nursing home industry is scary and a disgrace. Our seniors, and others needing nursing home care deserve better.”

Bad employees get away with abuse and neglect of nursing home residents — even murder. Good employees are punished (even fired) for doing the right thing on behalf of their residents. This is a legacy that must change!

It drives me nuts when I read or hear someone(s) referred to as “nursing home patient(s)”. Yes, nursing home staff (and visiting health care professionals) can and do provide medical care to folks who live there. In that sense, a person living in a nursing home could be referred to as a “patient.” At the same time persons living such a facility are receiving care in their home. Therefore, in my way of thinking, it is appropriate to refer to these folks as “nursing home residents.

Why is this wording an important issue to me? What difference does it make if someone living in a nursing home is referred to as a “patient” instead of as a “resident”? It makes all the difference in the world because this is a reflection of one of the core problems within the nursing home industry. Many within the industry would like to believe that they do not have to respect the rights of nursing home residents. They seem to conveniently forget that a nursing home IS A HOME to the people who live there. And just as you and I have rights in our home (house, apartment, condo, dormitory room, etc.) so do nursing home residents have legal rights in their home (which happens to be in a long-term health care facility).

Rights. Like the right to have their family and friends visit them without nursing home interference. And the right to wear their regular clothing to bed instead of a gown that many residents find violates their sense of decency because of revealing more of their body than they feel comfortable with showing. As well as the right to have personal conversations with family and friends not eavesdropped on by nursing home staff. ALL of these rights and more were violated by nursing homes who cared for my mother. Comments left on this blog and various news reports confirm that my late mother is one of the vast majority of nursing home residents who have/had their rights violated by nursing home staff on a regular basis. Yes, violating the rights of nursing home residents is a very real problem and the language used reflects what desperately needs to be fixed.

Resident. Respect the resident’s rights because the nursing home is their home! Yes it matters as we work to change the “nursing home culture” so it honors the residents entrusted to the care of long-term health care facilities (a/k/a nursing homes).

Nursing Home News Watch

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