When and if the time comes for the family to come to this same crossroad, a recent survey of nursing homes by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is instructive. Its results are important because the source of the information collected and reported were largely front-line nursing home staff.
Specifically, 70% of the 16,000 respondents to the AHRQ survey were either nurses aides, support staff, or licensed nurses. This is the group of people who interact most frequently with nursing home residents on a daily basis. It was the perceptions of this group that the AHRQ sought to assess in an effort to gauge the quality of care offered.
The areas that the AHRQ surveyed included things like communication (with patients as well as other staff), management support for patient safety, teamwork, and opportunities for staff training.
If you are in the position now (or approaching it) of thinking about nursing home placement, consider the following findings, which come from the “horse’s mouth” as it were; the staff who work in these places:
Staff who work in smaller nursing homes (49 beds or less) rated them highest on patient safety. Staff in these facilities were also much more likely to say that they would recommend such a placement to their own friends and family. Overall, staff in such facilities rated the overall level of care as “excellent” or very good.
Although larger nursing homes did not get bad ratings, their ratings were not nearly as good as these from staff who worked in the smaller facilities.
Nursing homes operated as non-profits got higher ratings from the staff who worked there than did nursing homes operated as for-profit businesses.
Again, though for-profit organizations were not necessarily panned by those who worked in them, neither were they rated as highly by those who actually work in them.
The above, in combination with family members taking the time to visit some nursing homes, may be very useful when it comes time to choose among options. Interestingly, those who may be inclined to think that bigger is better, or that something you pay more for is better, may be in for a surprise.