With the senior population growing and living longer, concern for their care is becoming more and more important. And with the elderly among our most fragile citizens we, more often than not, have no choice but to place our older relatives in the care of others. Sadly, families are often left with very limited options, a scary prospect as reports of nursing home abuse continue. And, despite the headlines nursing home abuse has garnered, news of elder abuse continues.
We’ve long been following the issue of elder abuse, a devastating indignity that attacks these defenseless members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, financial, medical, and sexual. Sadly, neglect, abuse, mocking, and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace.
A new online tool has been released—Nursing Home Inspect 2.0—to help families and loved ones view nursing home information based on government inspections. The free database helps with nursing home evaluations, nationwide, and was launched by nonprofit investigative news outlet ProPublica, said The Orlando Sentinel. The tool was initially launched in August and has been revised to include the federal fines imposed on some 15,000 U.S. nursing homes and also now utilizes government inspection reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That agency has its own site, Nursing Home Compare, with the same data, noted the Orlando Sentinel.
On Nursing Home Inspect, at propublica.org/nursinghomes, search may be made by facility, deficiency, state, or issue of concern—nutrition, hydration, sexual abuse, for example—and provide data on how facilities have done in the past three years of inspections, said the Orlando Sentinel. The site also provides information on the severity and frequency of the deficiencies and if the facility was fined. State inspectors, who are generally employed by Medicare, rate facilities via an A-to-L scale; were D is the most common ranking, K and L are the most serious, said the Orlando Sentinel.
The site revealed some glaring problems. For instance, in one case, one nursing home received 30 deficiencies—including a J and K ranking—but never paid any fines. The revised database includes colored maps that highlight each state’s number of deficiencies and the fines paid, said the Orlando Sentinel. Disparities are revealed more clearly with the new system and reveals that penalties are not uniformly imposed, according to Charles Ornstein, a ProPublica analyst who helped develop the database.
“The results support what auditors and researchers have maintained for years,” said Ornstein. “States have imposed federal fines inconsistently. Homes in some states pay a steep price for misconduct while those in neighboring states don’t,” he added, said the Orlando Sentinel.
Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care in Florida, a statewide advocacy group for nursing-home residents, told the Orlando Sentinel that because not all state fines are captured, neither the government site nor the ProPublica site is complete. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services posts its inspection report data monthly.