Oklahoma Nursing Homes See Ratings Fall

by | Mar 2, 2015 | Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

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Almost a third of Oklahoma’s nursing homes had a drop in their ratings as a result of tougher federal standards for long-term care, according to a recent article in The Oklahoman.

In all, 93 of Oklahoma’s 308 nursing homes lost at least one star as the federal rating system applied rigorous new standards, The Oklahoman reported. Fifty-six Oklahoma nursing homes got four stars, while 71 received three stars, 58 netted two stars, and 82 got the lowest rating of one star.

Oklahoma matched a national trend that saw a third of nursing homes across the country receive lower scores, the article notes. The federal government established the five-star rating system at Medicare.gov to give consumers a tool for evaluating nursing home quality as they consider facilities for their loved ones.

The rating system for nursing homes involves several factors, including health inspections, staffing, and other measures of quality such as number of patients on anti-psychotic drugs. 

Anti-psychotic effect

Nursing home regulators made changes in the grading system this year by docking nursing homes for overusing anti-psychotic drugs to handle patients, according to the article.

Sixty percent of the residents in some homes were being given anti-psychotics, according to Mary Brinkley, executive director of Leading Age Oklahoma, which mainly represents faith-based-sponsored nursing homes.

Some nursing homes inappropriately use anti-psychotic drugs as chemical restraints on patients rather than hiring sufficient staff to care for them. Agencies such as the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers and Leading Age Oklahoma acknowledge the problem of anti-psychotics overuse.

The government is giving the green light for schizophrenia patients to take anti-psychotic drugs, but not for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, the article reports.

Anti-psychotics, if given too much to patients who don’t really need them, can turn elderly people non-responsive and greatly diminish their quality of life.

The federal government’s new regulations require more staffing, which should improve patient care, Brinkley said. Having enough people on hand to make sure nursing home residents are clean, fed, and living in sanitary conditions is a crucial part of the nursing home environment.

Choosing the right home

Selecting a nursing home for your parents or loved ones is one of the biggest decisions you will ever face.

Using the five-star rating system and the Medicare.gov website can be valuable tools, but you also need to visit several homes before settling on one.

U.S. News & World Report suggests looking at these general principles:

  • Convenience: Select a home as convenient as possible to several family members so it’s easy to stop in and check on your loved one. Start with a geographical search in your region and cull the list from there.
  • High-quality care: If your mother has a condition such as dementia or a physical disability, the home should be prepared to deal with it. Look at staffing numbers to make sure staff aren’t stressed and can handle the people living there.
  • Measure medical factors: Check state health and safety reports for nursing home abuse. Find out whether residents are getting annual flu shots and receiving support for daily activities.
  • Compassionate living: Look for a place that is welcoming and supportive of your loved one.
  • Cost comparison: Ensure your loved one can afford to live in the place you choose with a combination of savings, Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care insurance.

Once you put your loved one in a nursing home, follow up with unannounced visits. Be on the lookout for signs of uncleanliness, physical harm, or other types of negligence.

If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused, report it immediately to the facility’s administrator. You may also file a complaint with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can also contact an Oklahoma attorney experienced in handling nursing home abuse cases to the discuss your loved one’s situation. A nursing home abuse lawyer will help in gathering the right information and navigating the legal system to ensure your loved one is protected, and receives compensation for any damage done by the nursing home.