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Nursing homes, the topic is sure to get one's attention. Especially for someone who is aging and loosing their independence. So many people say "I never want to go to one", yet it is a primary way our country cares for our sickest members.
As my father neared the end of his life he spent one month in a nursing home, even though he always voiced his dislike of such facilities. Selection was not much of an issue; he was being released from a hospital and the first bed available was what we took so that he could stay relatively close to my mom. The one he went to, Capitol Lakes, in Downtown Madison was described by many as wonderful. And it did a decent job on meeting his needs.
However, my jaw dropped open this past weekend while reading an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about nursing facilities with citations for improper care. Capitol Lakes was at the top of the list because a 95 year old women received 10 times the prescribed morphine; she died the next day. The State of Wisconsin fined the nursing home $4,550 and the federal government fined them $6,300. What shocked me was the quote from Tim Conroy, executive director of Captiol Lakes, "She was going to die. This is not what killed her." To that I say what? That flawed reasoning can be used by anyone who harms another -- we are all dying, we just aren't all aware of the process. If another member of my family requires skilled nursing care and the first bed to open up is at Capitol Lakes, I will pause before consenting to a transfer. The ambiance may be lovely, but the mindset of the executive director could use some remodeling!
The article linked above offers several resources for learning about skilled nursing facilities, specifically if they have been issued citations, staffing levels, and quality of care. Those include:
- Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care, 1-800-815-0015; and
- Dane County Area Agency on Aging, 608-261-9930