Earlier today (Sunday, 2/7/10) I received a hopeful message from “Janie” who lives in the Metro Louisville area.  She shares the following thoughts about a positive experience she had involving the nursing home where her mother currently lives…

“There is a nursing home in Louisville that, in my opinion, is a model of excellent care. It is (located in Louisville, KY — name withheld). My mom has lived there nine months and had incredible care. I credit them with bringing her back to life which her previous nursing home could not begin to manage.

I hear the frustration in the Courier-Journal (2/7/10) article and in the messages on this NursingHomeReality website. I am writing to suggest looking into a nursing home that is working well and finding out what makes it so, may offer some insight as to how to move into the positive role homes can play and are needed to play – (the nursing home where my mother lives) is such a place! I know that (this facility) is owned by (a local family) who have had the home since it’s opening. That management and mission may have a lot to do with the level of care.

When mom did have to go to the hospital once from (Nursing Home X), the staff was on top of it early and she was back and getting better within 10 days…Once back, it wasn’t minutes before she was embraced for a lengthy hug by the nurse on duty. The needed oxygen tank and breathing treatment equipment was already in mom’s room – these were items she had never had to use prior. Something is going really right at this nursing home for my mom – just wanted to offer a model as a starting ground – to maybe figure out what makes it so.”

Indeed Janie is one of several persons who have shared very positive things with me about the nursing home in question over the past few years.  I tried to arrange for admission for my mother to that same facility, but was turned down due to a decision made by management a few years ago to drop several Kentucky Medicaid-certified beds so the facility could increase the number of (Medicare and private pay) rehabilitation beds.  Also this facility did not offer a dementia unit, so they felt they could not meet my mother’s needs.  This isn’t to put down this nursing home, just to point out that while the nursing home in question is a great match for many persons, it may not be the right facility for others.  This is of course true for all nursing homes.

I believe Janie touched on a key ingredient of excellent nursing home care: ownership that is local and not part of a large, multi-state corporation. It seems that whenever these large corporations get involved, that the quality of care suffers because of the corporation’s greed.  When financial profits become more important than resident care, then the quality of resident care always suffers.

Because of the “corporate greed factor”, I have no doubt that minimum staffing requirements, as mandated by individual states, are needed now more than ever.  There are fewer and fewer locally-owned nursing homes, like the facility mentioned by “Janie”, since the overwhelming trend in the industry is for big, greedy multi-state corporations to continue gobbling them up.

I would be in favor of legislation that either mandates that all nursing homes  be owned by non-profit corporations or that for-profit nursing home corporations be limited as to how many facilities they can own. Perhaps this latter option would at least help reign in the greed factor, if not eliminate it completely.

Louisville, Ky.  40205