–Adequate staffing continues to drive quality of care–

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) September 10, 2014 – Families for Better Care, a Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy group, published its second annual state-by-state nursing home report card.

The group scored, ranked, and graded states on eight different federal quality measures ranging from the number of hours professional and licensed nurses averaged to the percentage of facilities with deficiencies.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.22.35 PM“This year’s report card reinforces what we discovered last year, and that’s more staffing translates into better care for residents,” said Brian Lee, Families for Better Care’s executive director. “The difference between quality nursing home care and subpar care boils down to an average of 22 extra minutes of direct care per resident daily.”

“The obvious solution to make nursing homes safer and more life enriching for residents is to hire more frontline staff,” Lee stated.

But staffing numbers are widely considered to be inflated as the data are self-reported by facilities and are often unaudited by the states or by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The skewed data mean that consumers are given a fuzzy nursing home picture while residents have even fewer staff caring for them than is fully realized.

Although there was little movement at the top and bottom of the overall rankings, all but seven states shifted position over the last year. Highlights included:

  • Top nursing home states were Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine while Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana languished at the bottom.
  • States with the biggest gains in overall ranking were Nevada (17), California (16), and the District of Columbia (16) while South Dakota (-19), Alaska (-15), and Oregon (-12) suffered the biggest losses.
  • Four of last year’s best nursing home states slid out of the top ten, including Alaska—2013’s highest ranked nursing home state—which plummeted to #16 overall. The remaining states were Idaho, South Dakota, and Oregon.

Other key findings included:

  • More professional nursing staff are needed—Only three states provided more than two hours of professional nursing care per resident per day.
  • An abundant lack of staffing—92 percent of states offered residents fewer than three hours of direct resident care per day.
  • Frequent violations—Nearly two-thirds of all states with 90 percent or more of their nursing homes were cited a deficiency for violating federal or state laws.
  • Widespread abuse and neglect continues—One in five nursing homes abused, neglected or mistreated residents in almost half of all states.

“Despite improvement in some states over the last year, nursing home grades and rankings again fell woefully short in many states, underscoring the fact that far too many nursing home residents are living in dangerous conditions.” Lee stated. “States with failing or below average grades must take immediate and decisive action to keep their elderly safe; they can start by enacting tough staffing standards or by enforcing current staffing standards, citing nursing homes for not having ‘sufficient’ staff.”

Families for Better Care, Inc. is a non-profit citizen advocacy group dedicated to creating public awareness of the conditions in our nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care settings and developing effective solutions for improving quality of life and care. Families for Better Care is located in Tallahassee, Florida. For more information, visit http://familiesforbettercare.com.