Illinois and Missouri flunk nursing home grading

A recent media article published an estimate that the global number of elderly will outnumber children by 205. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse's 2009 reporting, 3.2 million people were living in a nursing home in the United States. For families in southern Illinois and Missouri, the need to keep loved ones safe when in nursing homes only continues to grow.

A dismal view of resident safety

A report released this summer graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on nursing home care. Both Illinois and Missouri received "F" grades and ranked 42 and 47 out of 51, respectively. Specific notations included:

  • Illinois had the fewest frontline caregivers of all states.
  • Missouri had the lowest amount of professional nursing care with less than 35 minutes per day per resident.
  • Of all facilities, 96.38 percent in Illinois and 93.37 percent in Missouri had noted deficiencies.
  • In Illinois, 26.74 percent of nursing homes had severe deficiencies while 1969 percent of homes in Missouri were noted to have deficiencies considered to be severe.

For both states, the most common deficiencies were related to infection control and the ability of the environment to prevent accidents. Other problems noted related to the overall quality of care, food sanitation, comprehensive care plans or dispensing of unnecessary medications.

Signs of nursing home neglect or abuse

Often, nursing home residents are unable to advocate for themselves and it falls on family members to notice the warning signs that could signal abuse or neglect. When visiting your loved one, it is important that you be diligent in observing their overall condition and personal hygiene.

Basic cleanliness and lack of foul body odor, teeth brushing, combed hair and similar things should be obvious. Similarly, be on the lookout for any injuries that seem out of the norm including bruises, cuts and abrasions-especially those that worsen or do not improve with time.

Take action

If you believe that you notice potential problems, it is important that you act promptly. Depending on the nature of the situation, you may first wish to discuss your concerns with the nursing home staff. As you do this, be sure to document all observations and conversations.

If there is no improvement, you should consult with an attorney experienced in handling nursing home neglect cases for proper advice and guidance. Waiting to see what happens could mean the difference between life and death for your loved one.