Many Nursing Homes Not in Compliance With Federal Standards, Analysis Finds
Although nursing home care in California has improved since 2000, 31% of the state's 1,400 nursing homes fail to meet the state's minimum staffing requirements, and 90% of the state's skilled nursing facilities do not comply with all federal care standards, according to an analysis for the California HealthCare Foundation conducted by the University of California-San Francisco, the Sacramento Bee reports. The analysis, which also includes information on the state's 834 home health agencies and 172 hospice programs, combines information from 10 state and federal public databases.
The analysis found "limited improvements" in state nursing homes between 2000 and 2003, according to the Bee. For example, the number of homes that failed to meet the required 3.2 hours of daily nursing care per patient decreased from 44% to 31%, and the average number of inspection deficiencies decreased from 13% to 9%.
Charlene Harrington, lead researcher and UCSF professor, said that some patients received inadequate care and were taken to the bathroom every six hours "instead of every one to two hours." She added that patients in some facilities received about seven minutes of assistance eating, while patients in lower-quality facilities received about four minutes of assistance eating, the Bee reports.
The improvement is "nothing to shout about," Harrington said, adding, "A few are getting better. It's still very disturbing." She said the Department of Health Services has not enforced requirements sufficiently, making it easier for facilities to avoid compliance.
Brenda Klutz, deputy director of DHS licensing and certification, said the department will hire more staff to verify nursing home staffing levels beginning Jan. 1, 2005.
Betsy Hite -- spokesperson for the California Association of Health Facilities, which represents nursing homes -- said the nursing shortage has affected all health care providers, particularly nursing homes, for which Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are inadequate to cover the cost of providing treatment, the Bee reports (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 12/1). The analysis is available online.