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Local Nursing Homes and Rule Changes-Repost from Senior Matters

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This is a repost from Muriel Cole of Homeports in Chesterton, Maryland

Originally posted in her column Senior Matters

“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place,” according to writer Susan Sontag.

And for those of us over 65, it is estimated that 70 % will need long-term care services as we become sicker and weaker at the end of life. Accepting the need to go to a nursing home is one of biggest challenges in life, physically and emotionally.

Fortunately the Federal government is putting some new rules in place that may make the stay a bit more comfortable for residents. The highlights, according to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, include:

*Greater focus on individual needs and preferences

*Development of a care plan within 48 hours of admission

*More comprehensive care to include dialysis, pain management, and behavioral health services

*Improved training

*Improved protections against abuse, neglect and exploitation

*Better protection of resident property

A goal is to make nursing homes feel more like home. Policies such as a choice of alternative meals and snacks are now in place, for example, as well as a stronger grievance procedure.

In Kent County there are two nursing homes, in addition to one at Heron Point Continuing Care Retirement Community. I spoke with the managers at each of those to see how the new rules affect day-to-day life for the residents.

Tammy Hardy-Fauber, Administrator at Heron Point, says that their Willowbrook Court Nursing Home is “well ahead of the curve.” One of 21 Acts Retirement Life Communities, she says that Acts standards exceed those required by the new laws, “with a focus on individual or ‘person centered’, care, i.e., choices of medication administration times, meal & snack times/choices, etc.” She added that Willowbrook was rated as one of the top 1,000 nursing homes in the 2016 U.S. News and World Report magazine, and scored as a top Maryland nursing home a 9.5 out of a possible 10 in the 2016 annual Maryland Health Care Commission Nursing Home Survey.

“Emphasis will be on ‘choice’,” at UM Shore Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown, according to Stu Seitz, Director. “We already have the architecture in place, and little tweaks will be done,” he says. He notes that the facility is already in compliance, with lots of oversight, but that written policies and procedures will be updated with even stronger language to increase the protection and safety of residents.

Autumn Lake Healthcare at Chestertown (formerly Chestertown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center) is one of 14 centers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Yitzi Tendler, Administrator at Autumn Lake Healthcare in Chestertown, does not think there will be a change is resident life specifically, but the overall approach, that of resident-centered care, is one he endorses. “Nursing homes are already doing a lot of these things. The changes in regulations are partially a way to codify the mindset of focusing on the resident,” he says. “Care plans are prepared upon admittance, and training is in place, but more training may be added.”

Review the Nursing Home Compare data base (www.medicare.gov) to read the findings from the most recent inspections done of each facility.

The Maryland Department of Aging protects the rights and promotes the well-being of residents in long-term care facilities by means of the Maryland Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. To express a concern at a facility, call your area Ombudsman

-Muriel Cole, Member of the Community of Practice

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