SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio – When the Summit County Nursing Homes and Facilities Task Force issued final recommendations in early 2021, the intent was to put the recommendations into action and report the results.
A year later, the pandemic has subsided enough to allow people to return to the county’s more than 40 long-term care facilities, many of which for months had allowed only “compassionate visits” for patients. depressed, very ill or dying residents.
But reports of conditions, including those from Summit County Probate Court inspectors auditing court services, were alarming enough to reconvene the task force and renew efforts to raise the standard of care in the Summit County facilities, said county councilor Jeff Wilhite. and chair of the working group.
“They would come back and tell horror stories of what they had seen visibly with many people in their care, things like people sitting in their own filth, not having been turned or moved, and severe bedsores, and fair conditions are not what you would expect for someone being cared for at a facility like this,” Wilhite said.
Facility inspections published on Medicare.gov support these observations, detailing conditions in which residents were not bathed, dining rooms were filthy, food was not properly stored, and medications were mishandled.
Home Management Lawyers Akron Cantonthe local aging agency and sponsor of the Summit County ombudsman, made similar observations, said senior vice president for seniors’ rights Sam McCoy, who works in the care sector. seniors for nearly 30 years.
“It’s the details of the care that just weren’t considered,” he said, and it’s happened in facilities across the state.
In addition to pressure sores and generalized weight loss, supporters have also reported an increase in the use of mind-altering medications for behavior management, McCoy said. Some facilities were refusing admissions because there were not enough staff.
“I think the industry has never been more difficult and demanding than it is right now,” McCoy said.
Poor staffing is a common excuse given for poor quality care, which Wilhite said he was tired of hearing.
“The other side of that equation is what do you pay them?” Wilhite said. “You know, it’s not easy to take care of another human being, and if you’re going to be in this business, then maybe you’re looking at a little less profit and a little more hand support. not only to retain good employees, but to attract new and good employees to provide the basic care that must be provided in a facility like this.
Many nursing homes are nothing more than a line item on a spreadsheet with other facilities owned by non-local companies, Wilhite said.
Since its reconvening, the task force has identified three initial actions:
- create a balanced consumer guide for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and memory care
- create a “bill of rights” for patients, families and guardians
- strengthen local services to enable people to age in place
The task force also plans to partner with other local organizations on some kind of longer-term quality improvement project to help struggling facilities in Summit County, said McCoy, who is also part of of the working group.
“Knowing what our limits are, we’re going to look at where the gaps are,” Wilhite said.
But the task force’s message to care homes is clear, he said.
“You can keep doing what you’re doing, but we have the right to let people know what you’re doing and give them the tools they need to make a safe and wise decision for their loved one who needs your help. service,” he said.
In the meantime, the task force “isn’t going to take the spotlight off” facilities rated one star, which means “significantly below average,” on Medicare’s list, Wilhite said.
Currently ranked lowest in Summit County are:
- The Colony Healthcare Center in Tallmadge
- Divine Rehabilitation and Nursing at Canal Pointe in Akron
- Copley’s Regency Care in Akron
- Continuing Health Care at Cuyahoga Falls
- Windsong Nursing & Rehab in Akron
In the meantime, a recent development that can help families is Esther’s Lawwhich was passed in March, making it legal for families to install surveillance devices in family members’ bedrooms so they can check in, he said.
The law is named after Esther Piskor, an Ohio woman who suffered from dementia and was abused in the last three years of her life. His son, Steve Piskor, learned that his mother had been abused thanks to a hidden camera he installed.
Meetings of the Summit County Nursing Home Task Force are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15 at 10 a.m. in room 119a of the Ohio Means Jobs Building, 1040 East College Avenue in Akron.