NJ v. PA Nursing Homes, A Question of Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents
Families for Better Care, a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness about nursing home care in the U.S., just released a report card of nursing home care. Each of the 50 states was graded based on multiple quality measures, such as direct care hours per resident per day. These kinds of factors are an indication of overall quality in a given nursing home. So how did Pennsylvania and New Jersey do?
About the Grading Process
The organization’s grading process involves 8 factors which measure the quality of care in nursing homes. The factors are:
- direct care staffing ratings (above average),
- direct care staffing hours per resident,
- percentage of facilities with deficiencies,
- percentage of facilities with severe deficiencies,
- percentage of above average health inspections,
- professional nurse staffing ratings (above average),
- professional nursing hours per resident, and
- percentage of facilities with verified ombudsman (state) complaints.
Pennsylvania’s Nursing Home Quality Grade – D
Pennsylvania received a “D,” placing 32nd in the country. It has slipped from the prior year rank, which was 26th in the country. With failing grades in two major categories (direct care staffing above average and direct care staffing hours per resident), it is easy to see why Pennsylvania’s nursing home quality grade has slipped.
New Jersey’s Nursing Home Quality Grade – B
New Jersey received a “B,” placing 15th in the country. Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s rank dropped from 18th in the country. The two areas where the states differ markedly are: percentage of facilities with deficiencies and percentage of facilities with verified ombudsman complaints.
Per the 2014 report, roughly 96% of Pennsylvania’s nursing home/long term care facilities have deficiencies, compared to 89% for New Jersey. In addition, there is a wide variation between the states with respect to the percentage of facilities with verified ombudsman complaints, or complaints made with the state agencies which oversee nursing home quality. Pennsylvania’s score was over 80%. New Jersey’s score (less than 40%) was half that of Pennsylvania’s score. New Jersey’s score was one of the best in the country.
Both states, however, fared poorly on the direct care staff hours per resident category. Pennsylvania’s average number of direct care staff hours per resident was 2.26, which earned an “F” grade. New Jersey’s average was not much better, 2.30, and also earned it an “F.”
A nursing home’s average number of direct care staff hours per resident is a very important metric. Usually, direct care staff includes registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse aides. When nursing home residents do not receive enough care from nursing staff, injuries and accidents are much more likely to occur. For instance, a nursing home resident may fall out of bed, and for nursing home residents, fall accidents often result in very serious injuries such as fractured bones and/or head injuries. A nursing home resident who is injured in a fall accident may deteriorate quickly.
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