New list reveals serious issues at Indiana nursing homes

I-Team 8

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — America’s population is aging. One in every seven Americans is 65 or older. As more people growing old are put into care facilities, the federal government kept names of problem facilities from the public. The names of 478 facilities with serious health, safety, or sanitation problems were not released to the public.

Senators released a new list from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of nursing homes with documented problems. We had never heard from the government that these nursing homes, including 17 in Indiana, had such problems.

“You want to look for cleanliness, you want to make sure the staff are engaging with the other residents, what their safety procedures that they have in place,” said Mary Durell, Interim President of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, a central Indiana nonprofit.

Durell’s organization helps connect older adults and their family members with the best options for in-home care or nursing homes.

“That transition from home to an assisted living, independent care living is also very difficult,” Durell said.

The Senate’s list had four nursing homes in central Indiana with issues – two officially listed as having substandard quality of care:

  • Essex Nursing and Rehab Center in Lebanon
  • Signature Healthcare of Lafayette
  • Rawlins House Health and Living in Pendleton
  • Lawrence Manor Healthcare Center (closed)

Durell’s advice when looking for a nursing home is to check out the same things you would if you were moving into an apartment complex or rental home: Is it clean? Does it smell clean?

“You want to make sure the staff are engaging with the other residents, what their safety procedures that they have in place?” said Durell. “Look at their daily activity sheet to see what they do with the residents. Do they take them out? Do they stay here? Is there a sign in, sign out sheet to make sure that they’re safe? Do the staff wear identification badges? Who’s going to be the physician in charge of your loved one when they’re there?”

Durell recommends visiting often, including when the staff and your loved one are not expecting you. She also recommends stopping in for a meal to check out the food they serve. You may also want to ask about resident’s rights, monthly activities and the visitation policy.

The state has reports on facilities.

Durell recommends checking the facility name against records or reports from the Better Business Bureau as well.

“I think the other thing to do is, try to connect with some people who are actually living there and see how they feel about things,” she suggests.

If you/your loved one have an issue with a facility:

  • Report it to the Indiana State Department of Health
  • Contact the facility’s administrator or ownership
  • Call CICOA if you need help finding a different facility at 800-432-2422

The Senate’s report said problem nursing homes account for about 3% of all homes the federal government oversees.

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