5 traits of the worst nursing homes

When vetting a home for a parent, look out for these red flags.

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175Comments
Jun 12, 2014 10:03AM
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The problem as I see it is that many and I repeat many of these folks have no money to pay for help and want society to pay for them. My mom (83 yrs old) is in a assisted care facitlity and we pay $5,500 a month for her care. It is a nice place. It is in a smaller town and she knows many of the people from living in the area for her whole life. Now is it the best, of course not. But it is better than my dad or my brother and I trying to care for her. I have clowns telling me how to take my moms assets and get rid of them so the government will pay for her. They say it is terrible that my parents savings are going to be wasted in a nursing home and I will not inherit it. Well my dad says that is what it is for. Kind of like student financial aid. My parents saved and put me and my brother through college and I was told not to apply for aid as we could do it. We need more people standing up for themselves instead of relying of the government. This applies to all aspects of life to include nursing care.
Jun 11, 2014 11:14PM
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Be very, very concerned if the nursing home does not allow family access 24/7. There should be no such thing as visiting hours.
Jun 11, 2014 8:04PM
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Basic common sense is to start with your nose and your eyes . Sure , older people have toileting problems , but if a place ALWAYS smells terrible then keep looking elsewhere   . Use your eyes ;  do the residents look clean , well fed , hair brushed , have access to activities etc ? And then most of all , ask yourself if YOU would want to live there .  Don't let your guard down either , because things can change in a hurry .  .
Jun 11, 2014 9:15PM
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Traits of a bad nursing home: when you see the director in a posh fancy office with 4 secretaries who have nothing to do but the patient rooms have paint peeling off the walls and one aide for 8 or more patients; you can smell the place even before you walk in:  Patients have food caked on their hands and face and dirty clothes: your dog's food looks and smells better than what they serve the patients:   smelly dirty diapers stacked in cart in the hallway hour after hour.... when I get to that point I sure hope Dr kevorkian's successor is close by, or take me to the vet like we did the sick old dog....... those places are your punishment for living too long. I guess when they wrote the constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment" that they hadn't yet invented nursing homes.....
Jun 11, 2014 7:45PM
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I worked in nursing homes for twenty years and there no GOOD homes. Examples, locked linen closets, so you couldn't change beds, bedsores so bad you could see bones, toe nails curled under feet and into the skin.They are all the same, very sad. I have told my kids, just get me some heroin and let me go the way that's the easiest, don't let me suffer. Oh one more thing when the homes were going to be inspected the homes were given plenty of time to get ready.
Jun 12, 2014 6:42AM
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Years ago I really believed that people who went into the nursing field had heart and truly cared for people.  Well, did I learn the hard way when my mom was ill and hospitalized at the end of her life.   The nurses were the laziest, most incompetent group of idiots I have ever met .  This was in a major hospital.   My mother's doctor told me if they worked for him personally,  he would have fired them.    They rattled me and made me realize my expectation of them being competent was very wrong.  

Unfortunately for our elderly, many of them have some degree of dementia and are unaware of what is going on around them.  These nursing home employees are well aware of that.   So, if they can show up, take their breaks, have lunch and go home, that is what they are there to do.   I understand it is very easy to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, so it's not like someone with lots of training and skill is interacting with your loved one.  Please people, wake up and visit anyone you have in a nursing home on a regular basis.  I am sure there are those that do their job and care, but I think there are many who are negligent.  It's heartbreaking for the elderly!
Jun 12, 2014 7:21AM
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When I get that age just drag me outside and put a bullet in me. No big funeral, no lavish coffin, just a hole in the back yard and a pine box.
Jun 11, 2014 9:08PM
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I work in a nursing for around 12 years now. there always staffed to the minimal. its all about what's there payer source.

the upper management say they care about there employees but its all about keeping the nursing home under budget and all the beds full. so that makes the staff become a clock in clock out I hate this job the administration don't care about us so we care but not enough to go the extra mile anymore. then you have lets bring in contracted services for the

housekeeping department to save even more money. first thing they do is cut housekeeping staff to the bare. now you have a under staffed nursing home. they buy cheaper cleaning supplies to save money, so even though the cleaning crew does its job the smell just doesn't go away.

Jun 11, 2014 9:28PM
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This is pathetic, dishonor of death.... most can't afford it. "Dear God", when it is time do it quick and painless.
Jun 25, 2014 9:38AM
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I have worked as an RN for many years & previously as a CNA, in many nursing homes since 1990. Most of them are not adequately staffed. I love the residents & my job, but hate the management & corporations that run them. I have found that the larger the corporation, the more money is emphasized. Most of those people simply do not care about the residents or the workers. It is only about saving money & cutting costs. The longer I am in this field, the worse staffing gets. I never get a 30 minute lunch break, or even 15 minute breaks. It is a great weight loss aid, but very frustrating that precious lives are being treated like cattle, being fed food that looks worse than the food I feed my pets, have housekeeping & laundry services that are a disgrace, & that nurses have to squeeze 12 hours of work into 8hrs or 16 hrs of work into 12. I am embarrassed to have to tell residents at times that I am sorry that there are simply no clean towels or blankets on the units. Not all doctors call us back when paged with medical issues & management simply does not care about issues that the state does not find, or issues that does not save them money. Many times, management on call does not return our calls regarding important issues after hours. 
Also, when you do your research on nursing homes, ask if background checks are not only done on the employees, but the residents. I have worked in facilities where alcoholics, drug addicts & former convicted felons also live, that steal from other residents. I have seen very violent, psychotic residents being housed with frail others who could potentially be victims of them. Not all abuses & thefts are from workers, but some are from other residents.
God will judge those heartless people responsible for this! 
I have done my best to make the homes where I have worked a better place & pray daily for God to give me wisdom & to make where I work a better place.
Jun 11, 2014 8:32PM
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Hey  -- U are no patriot making fun of people.
To the subject of nursing homes -- they know before hand when state is coming. staff are poorly trained and no follow up training. Poor supervision. Aides don't care except for getting paid and satisfying government requirement for welfare.
Jun 12, 2014 10:40AM
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These nursing home employees who neglect and mistreat the elderly there, will one day, be elderly and placed in a facility just like that, if they live long enough. Then they will be facing the same type treatment by the same kind of people there.
Jun 12, 2014 1:53AM
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There are other options to nursing homes and some are definitely worth looking into.  Assisted living is a notch above nursing homes in that they care for people that have dementia and physical problems but are still pretty independent or functional.  Perhaps a loved one only needs some help with bathing, having meals prepared for them, and their medications.  They enjoy interacting with others and are escorted to activities they enjoy.  Assisted living centers are considerably less expensive than nursing homes and have 24 hour staffing.  Unless they are "wanderers", and at risk to leave the facility, they can function within the structure of assisted living.  My mother had a wonderful life at an assisted living center even though her mind left her otherwise healthy body. 
Jun 12, 2014 12:29PM
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I traveled the world and observed most families take care of their elderly with respect and love. Here in the US, we just stick them in a home because it's a hugh amount of work being a care taker  and having your parents live with you. What's going to happen when the baby boomers hit their pinnacle, the system is being strained already. My brother is in a assistance living apartment with dementia, is really nice but it also cost $70,000.00 a year. As with most, watching my mother in a home and now my brother! - shoot me when the time comes. A personal choice. 
Jun 25, 2014 6:29AM
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I've worked in a nursing home for ten years. For the price they charge for their service you could take me out back and do me like old yeller. I really wont mind. Let the $9-10,000 go towards my children and grandchildren and not to some scumbag in a business suit that owns 50 nursing homes on the east coast. 
Jun 11, 2014 8:42PM
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It's not true that there are NO good nursing homes! I have worked as a cosmetologist  for 24 yrs. in a very well run long term healthcare facility in Shoreline ,Washington at Cristwood ...also known as Crista .

What ann12344 described is certainly out there...but I would never make a blanket statement like that. You need to do your research to find the best ones, however. Where I work, its' a non-profit establishment and not a big chain. Also when inspectors come ,they demand more from our facility since its' basically on the "A" list. If a facility is rated at the top, its' the "gold standard" in the industry...and so we are" held to a higher bar " and  are expected  to maintain it. We have a nursing center ( with two "neighborhoods" devoted to rehab patients), assisted living, and apartments...plus  a school for K-12th grade  and  a radio station ...all on one campus.  

Jun 12, 2014 10:23AM
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I worked in nursing homes, and loved the work.  Taking care of the most vulnerable was my specialty, but how many were treated on other shifts made me sick.  I was a strong advocate and on at least three prominent occasions put my job at risk to protect them.  I was not afraid to call the state health department, and didn't mind admitting it even though I knew I could remain anonymous.  

There are family who are present frequently, while some residents have little to no family, or family living in distant areas.  

It isn't always the elderly or senior with dementia who lives in a nursing home.  Most would be surprised at the number of younger people living in nursing homes and assisted living.  I was one of them for for nearly three years while I waited for a wheelchair accessible apartment to be available.  People don't realize that need for accessible housing in the community is a major reason for a many people in nursing homes.  Other reasons are lack of family, medical needs

Lastly, while some of the "rules" set out in the article are fine, don't depend on them.  I have worked with, or seen aides who were very neat and clean that did the least work, acted cruelly to residents (making fun of them) and were there simply for a paycheck.   I have worked with more battered looking aides who worked hard and sometimes didn't even take breaks because a resident needed some extra cares.  And don't judge by where workers were born.  While I did find caregivers from one particular country tended to be lazy and behaved like America "owed" them everything with no effort; MOST workers from other countries were in all categories of competence and compassion the same as Americans.  But that was MY experience which is why I will not name that one country exception.

Good luck to all looking for long term care, and don't be afraid to walk away from a place that just doesn't pass muster.
Jun 25, 2014 9:39AM
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A few related points for those who take this seriously.  First off, research of facilities only gets you so far when the documents are outdated by 5 or 6 years- it is difficult to get current information.  From reading the comments, it is very easy to see who has had to deal with this and who has not...yet!  It would be great to have a million dollar home constructed with trapeze bars and slings and special tubs and special beds and smooth floors with appropriate clearances for wheelchairs, maybe an exercise pool also.  Who can afford that?  So to those idealists who haven't yet been put in this position, you need to understand that the issue is not with some aging person in good health who has simply lost their spouse or has no where to live.  The issue is 24 hour back-breaking care 365 days a year, heavy lifting, constant cleaning of messes and bathing to maintain adequate sanitation, trips to doctors and hospitals, ducking swinging arms and flailing legs; all while trying to maintain your own sanity. Many of these facilities have become very skilled at producing slick brochures and web sites and catering to scheduled visitors, while the scenes you are not able to see are very different. High turnover is to blame for much of the problem, and I think the Aide that commented has a valid point in that people who are equipped mentally and physically to do this type of work day in and day out should be paid well for it- regardless of their educational levels or "bad choices" they made when they were younger.  It takes a very strong person to do this type of work and if you do it well you should be valued by the administration; Not punished by being at the bottom of the pay scale. 
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My father stayed in a well-run nursing home--won't say the name--but it was under the Genesis umbrella. The staff were caring, friendly and patient with Dad's unique personality.
The only reason I mention all this is because sometimes one way to tell about a nursing home--or any joint--is to sit down for a face-to-face so's to get a feel of the 'office culture' among staff...because it's obviously the staff who will care for your loved one. Just a thought.

Happy Father's Day Dad! Wherever the hack you ended up...(inside joke)

Jun 25, 2014 3:54AM
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It's difficult to get a lot of quality people to work in places like this, the wages and benefits are just so low. Lots of nurses and aides don't want to do that kind of work so there again, hard to get quality people, the work is not easy, it's not easy dealing with confused patients who wander-  and poop while doing so and then hit you when you try to help them. It would be much better if they had adequate staffing to deal with these heavy care patients but they just don't and care gets neglected in a lot of places. Not an excuse, but that's why it happens, I've seen it, I'm an RN in a prestigious medical center and cost-cutting is rampant there too. 
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