Nursing homes and quality of lifeby Pam Dempsey (Reporter, CU-CitizenAccess.org)
on Dec 05, 2011
For some residents in the Champaign County Nursing Home, a cookie at night makes a big difference.
During a state health inspection in December 2009, half a dozen residents complained that they were not getting a bed time snack. (See full report below)
“A dark room and a cookie in the middle of the night is good for sleeping,” one resident reported.
Sometimes she saved part of her dessert from dinner so she could have a snack overnight.
And her complaint netted attention.
Under state law, a facility is to provide at least three meals a day and cannot let more than 14 hours lapse between meals. The facility must also offer bedtime snacks.
A lack of a cookie may seem insignificant compared to the other patient care problems that plague nursing homes - some so severe that they cause serious injury and even death.
But to the few residents who complained that December day, the bedtime snack was a necessary part of their quality of life.
And quality of life is a big deal.
CU-CitizenAccess.org spent the last few months reviewing hundreds of federal and state records of more than 90 nursing homes in East Central Illinois in the wake of state efforts to reform nursing home oversight.
The results were startling.
Many nursing homes have repeated safety violations spanning the past five years, placing residents at risk for untreated pressure sores, bladder infections, serious medication errors and broken bones.
Some nursing home officials cite inadequate staffing issues and delayed public health payments as challenges to providing quality of care.
Advocates argue that, regardless, nursing homes should fulfill the responsibilities they commit to.
Those responsibilities may vary from patient to patient.
It may be receiving their medication on time, having a warm bed to sleep in and a safe place to live.
For others, it may be a daily activity more stimulating than sitting in front of a TV all day.
And still, for some, it may be something simple as having a bedtime snack.