The image of nursing homes in the US is not always a kind one; they're sometimes portrayed as warehouses for elderly people who face neglect and/or abuse.
But one of the most important and determining factors in the quality of nursing home care, what the industry refers to as the nurse-to-patient ratio, is not always mandated.
Thirty-five states, including California, have minimum staffing regulations. New York does not. Metro Justice's Elder Justice Committee is aggressively advocating to change that. The group is seeking public input through a short survey concerning personal experiences with nursing home care. The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HG66HFT.
The Elder Justice Committee hopes that the survey results will help committee members push for the passage of The Safe Staffing For Quality Care Act, which would set nurse-to-patient ratios by unit in state nursing homes.
According to the New York State Nurses Association, no nurse could be assigned responsibility for more patients that what's set by the ratio, and there would be a minimum number of hours of care per patient, per day.
The bill passed the State Assembly in 2016, but did not make it through the Senate.
"Staffing is number one in a nursing home," says Ken Traub, co-chair of the Elder Justice Committee. "'My mother was waiting for 45 minutes after she rang her call bell and now she's peed in her pants' — that's a staffing issue."
There is a clear correlation between nursing homes that carry higher government ratings and those with higher staffing ratios, Traub says. The information, which can be found at https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?, is a useful guide to families, he says.
There are 34 nursing homes in Monroe County, some with alarmingly low ratings, according to the site.