AARP Texas is calling for the Texas Legislature to approve Senate Bill 1629 to reform nursing homes. AARP members from across the state have expressed disappointment about nursing home quality. Thousands of members signed a petition urging legislative action on nursing home quality. And through a survey, members explained their families’ experiences in Texas nursing homes.
Among concerns mentioned were waiting long times for care, urinary tract infections, errors in medication schedules, unexplained injuries, and bedsores. A common issue was low staffing and high turnover of staff. Studies have shown that nursing home staffing is highly correlated to the overall quality of care. Low staffing can be linked to many of the other concerns reported.
Poor staffing levels can lead to infrequent care and often neglect. Many nursing home residents have poor mobility and depend on staff to use the restroom and get physical activity. Long waits to use the restroom increase risk of urinary tract infections. Being left unattended in bed with little movement can cause bedsores, a type of skin ulcer that was mentioned several times in the AARP Texas survey. If a resident cannot rely on staff to help them, they may try to walk on their own leading to injuries.
Neglect from staff can harm the mental or emotional state of a nursing home resident. Loneliness is a significant problem in nursing homes. Limited interaction from staff means limited opportunities for socialization. Many survey responses mentioned disrespectful treatment from staff, including name-calling. Some reported more overt abuse, like allegations of physical and sexual assault.
When trying to find a nursing home for a loved one, families struggle to understand the complex business of the nursing home industry. Increasing investments from private equity firms and real estate investors make it difficult for regular families to see who really runs the facility. Misleading marketing from nursing home websites also clouds their judgment.
Senate Bill 1629 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, would require nursing homes to spend a certain amount of public funds on direct staffing. Ensuring that funds go to improving staffing is an important step in improving overall quality of care. The bill would also require that any ownership of at least 5 percent of the facility is disclosed and accessible to the public.
To sign the AARP Texas petition calling for the Legislature to improve nursing home quality in Texas, visit action.aarp.org/txcare