There was shocking news this week as the most recent federal rankings for nursing home quality were released – a report that compared the quality of different long-term care facilities across the nation. In news that should raise more than a few eyebrows around the state, those ranking found that 27.6% of care facilities in Georgia qualified for only the lowest possible rating of just a single star. That placed Georgia near the bottom of states in the southeast region, with only the state of Louisiana performing worse.
It should also be noted that 56 of the state’s care facilities earned the maximum five-star rating, which places them well above average for nursing homes in the United States. That fact demonstrates that at least there is no systemic problem with care facilities across the state – but there is still much work to be done to bring those low-performing facilities up to par.
The ratings were provided as part of an analysis from Nursing Home Compare, which tracks the quality levels of nursing homes throughout America. As part of the group’s evaluation process, it evaluates nearly every important metric of nursing home operations, including everything from health inspections and quality to staffing. New metrics were also recently added to the evaluation process, focusing on patient outcome concerns: patient discharges and re-hospitalization, as well as visits to emergency rooms.
For Georgia, the results were obviously a mixed bag this year. They serve as a stark reminder that the state’s long-term care facilities are anything but uniform in the level of quality care they provide to their residents. And while many of those facilities are obviously doing fantastic work that provides much-needed care and a sense of home for the patients who live there, others are anything but ideal. Reports like this are an important way to refocus attention to those failing facilities and ensure that their deficiencies are not neglected.
Patients and Their Families Want to Know
Obviously, these are the types of data points that patients and their families need to see if they are to make informed decisions about long-term care. Of course, today’s trend toward greater transparency is a far cry from how things were just a few short decades ago – back when it was all but impossible to know how well any nursing homes were actually performing in areas like patient care.
As Georgia’s population ages, our seniors will be in need of this type of information as they try to identify the best long-term care options for their unique circumstances. Transparency is critical if families are to make sound decisions about where their loved ones will stay throughout portions of their twilight years. Families can use these rankings and other data to help them objectively compare the different options available to them as they try to select the ideal care environment.
That point was driven home recently by the Georgia Council on Aging’s Kathy Floyd, who stressed just how important this ranking system actually is for the families of nursing home residents. She urged the families of older Georgians to make use of these rankings when they evaluate and compare nursing home facilities in their areas. At the same time, she also noted that the results of this current evaluation should motivate patient care advocates in the state to redouble their efforts on behalf of quality long-term care in Georgia.
What Does it all Mean for You?
Of course, rankings like these mean very little if they don’t somehow translate into something useful for the patients they are meant to serve. If you’re a Georgia senior or the family member of someone who may need long-term care of some sort, the news that many of Georgia’s nursing homes still have quality issues in certain areas of operation might be disheartening. After all, the last thing you want to do is choose an inferior care facility for yourself or a loved one. You can rest easy in that regard.
The fact is that, despite observable problems in a sizable portion of the nursing homes across Georgia, we are still talking about facilities that are performing well enough to meet the minimum standards. So, while you certainly want the best for your care, you need not be unduly alarmed if you select one of the problematic facilities. If they were complete disasters, they wouldn’t be allowed to operate.
With that said, however, it is essential to compare these results as you are comparing the various facility options available to you. In addition, you should be sure to visit any care facility that you are considering. Speak with the staff, observe patients and patient care, and pay attention to things like mealtime and social activities. Every nursing home has its own unique personality, and even many of those that score well on objective measurements may ultimately turn out to be the wrong choice for your needs.
Of course, there are a lot of complex issues to consider when selecting a long-term care facility, and there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to determining what features of any given nursing home are right for you. In addition, there are often other concerns that must be addressed when it comes time to deal with complex issues like long term care. Medicaid and nursing home planning can become critical concerns as you struggle to find the best way to pay for that long-term care.
At Fouts Law Group, LLC, our experience with elder law issues ensures that we can help you to properly navigate the complex issues you’ll face during the nursing home selection process. We can help you to better understand issues related to nursing home funding, Medicaid, and estate planning well before it’s time to actually pick one of the many available care facility options. To learn more about the state of Georgia’s nursing home and long-term care venues, and how we can help you to make sense of it all, contact us online or give us a call at (678) 242-8344.
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