What will make nursing homes and care for older folks better in Ohio?
Right now Ohio is ranked 24th in the nation for how it cares for it's older residents meaning half of the states in the U.S. offer better
Tuesday, March 7th 2023, 11:08 PM EST
In the governor's state of the state speech, Mike DeWine pledged to improve the care that older folks receive in Ohio.
Right now Ohio is ranked 24th in the nation for how it cares for its older residents meaning half of the states in the U.S. offer better care of its most vulnerable residents.
Youngstown was the first stop for the state's Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force.
This morning nursing home care professionals along with folks who live in nursing homes got an opportunity to talk about what increases good nursing care, and what improvements they would like to see.
The Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force are on a tour around the state to listen to nursing home residents, caregivers, staff members, and administrators so they can draft a plan to improve care for Ohio's older residents.
"Not only will we listen but we will take action. I think you can see here right away we heard some very powerful stories, and we will translate those stories into meaningful information and how we can best move forward," the Director of the Ohio Department of Aging Ursel McElroy said.
"We are looking at what things we can do to make Ohio the best place to age in the nation, and certainly when we looked at the data when we heard the stories Governor DeWine has heard over and over again it was incumbent upon us to take some steps to address this," McElroy added.
Complaints ranged from not receiving medicine on time, sitting in urine for hours before bed sheets were changed, and even alleged financial threats after complaints were made to an administrator about aides that seemed less interested in patient care, and more interested in playing games on their phones or watching television than answering calls from residents for assistance.
One daughter told the task force one home her mom was receiving care after surgery was horrible. That woman explained that when she complained to an administrator about the lack of care and compassion from the staff there, that administrator responded with threats allegedly telling her, I'm going to have to let the insurance company know her physical therapy is not going well. She is complaining about everything. The daughter told the crowd her mom only had three showers in two months there at that nursing home.
Another lady suggested reducing paperwork from 80 pages of legal speaking to a few pages of plain English. She also suggested that all nursing homes could make people feel comfortable and more a homes. She explained they could show you here where the therapy room is, here is the dining room, and here is your room in relation to all of those.
State Ombudsmen who investigate complaints of neglect and abuse recognize a common thread, a lack of people applying for jobs leading to a shortage of staffing which appears to be a factor in less than adequate care.
21 News talked with Attorney Jacqueline DeGenova Ohio's Long Term Ombudsman.
She explained that one of the common threads for care that is less than optimal is a lack of staff.
"We hear it in many of the health care fields, right with hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living care providers, so I think that is a reoccurring theme," DeGenova said.
The State Long Term Ombudsman's office is the advocate for residents in all facilities nursing homes, and assisted living homes, for individuals who receive services at home, whether that's meals, chores, or transportation services.
The Ombudsmen for the state can do intake on complaints and they do regular visits to interact with residents. They work with the nursing facility or the service providers to ensure the residents are getting what they need, and that it's a workable solution for the provider or nursing facility itself.
"I think one of the values of doing these meetings is hearing from residents themselves. Every day they are experiencing in their homes, sometimes the care is what they need and they have great caretakers," DeGenova added.
"We know there are staffing issues there, so the takeaway I think for me is to really listen to what the residents have to say. Their first-hand experience and their willingness to come here today and share that experience are valuable," Attorney DeGenova emphasized.
She tells 21 News that the people want to be treated with dignity and respect.
The task force will travel around the state and submit a plan by May 26th to improve life for some of Ohio's most vulnerable folks.