The federal government has released a web tool that flags nursing homes with a history of mistreating residents on its Nursing Home Compare website. The government began flagging the nursing homes using a red icon with a white hand in the center to warn the public about facilities where Medicare inspectors have found that staff or administrators failed to protect the facility’s residents from abuse and neglect.
As of mid-November 2019, the mark had been placed next to the listings for 760 out of the 15,262 nursing homes across the nation in the Medicare database, or roughly five percent of facilities. The symbols are updated monthly and removed after one year if the facility does not receive an additional citation for abuse or neglect.
Each year, facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid residents must undergo an annual health inspection to receive Medicare and Medicaid certification from the federal government. The certifications last one year and inspections must occur within 90 days after the certification expires, meaning that each facility is inspected every 12 to 15 months. Below you will find information about nursing home ratings generally, and about NHC Healthcare – Greenville specifically.
Nursing Home Ratings
CMS, which stands for Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, is the governmental agency responsible for reviewing nursing facilities for quality and safety and for maintaining the Nursing Home Compare website. The website assigns a quality rating for nursing homes between one and five stars. When a nursing home facility receives a five-star rating, CMS has determined that it offers above average quality of care, while a one-star rating indicates that the nursing home facility is providing below average care.
There is an overall rating as well as separate star ratings for each of the following categories:
- Health inspections;
- Staffing levels, which are the numbers of nurses available to meet the needs of the residents; and
- Quality measures, which are based on resident assessments and Medicare claims data.
U.S. News & World Report also rates nursing homes on a scale of one to five, with five meaning “high performing”, three meaning “average”, and one meaning “below average”. In 2019, 2,969 facilities received four or five star ratings and were recognized as U.S. News Best Nursing Homes. The star ratings are based on key outcomes for both long- and short-stay nursing homes, for which facilities are rated separately on a scale of one to three stars.
U.S. News considers these categories for short-term residents:
- Registered nurse staffing;
- Consistent nurse staffing;
- Physical therapist staffing;
- Patient-centered rehabilitation therapy;
- Patients able to return home;
- Emergency room visits;
- Flu vaccinations;
- Fall prevention;
- Use of antipsychotic drugs; and
- Rate of substantiated complaints.
U.S. News considers these categories for long-term residents:
- Consistent nurse staffing;
- Nurse staffing;
- Emergency room visits;
- Pneumonia vaccinations;
- Pressure ulcers;
- Ability to perform self-care;
- Use of antianxiety and hypnotic drugs; and
- Rate of substantiated complaints.
About NHC Healthcare – Greenville
The Hughey Law Firm has successfully pursued claims against this facility.
NHC Healthcare – Greenville is a nursing home in Greer, South Carolina that features 132 certified resident beds. Some of the amenities that the facility offers to its short-term rehabilitative and long-term residents include:
- Daily scheduled activities and entertainment;
- A beauty/barber shop;
- A gardening area;
- A dining room;
- A private event room;
- Regular social events;
- Religious services;
- Housekeeping and laundry services;
- High-speed wireless internet services; and
- Cable TV in each room.
The facility provides individual nursing each day for residents, including specialized care for diabetes, pain management, and wound care.
February 2017 CMS Inspection
CMS’s February 2017 inspection of NHC Healthcare – Greenville revealed two deficiencies at the facility. The deficiencies were:
- Failure to allow a resident the right to participate in planning or revision of the resident’s care plan. Records review and interviews revealed that facility staff failed to update a resident’s care plan to address documented physical altercations the resident had had with others. The resident had experienced aggressive episodes in which the staff observed the resident hitting other residents. The resident’s record indicated a need for psychological services, but the family had declined those services. There were no written directives in the resident’s care plan about how to address the resident’s aggression toward other residents.
- Failure to ensure that the nursing home is free from accident hazards and risks and failure to provide supervision to prevent avoidable accidents. This deficiency was also in relation to the resident listed above and their altercations with other residents, given that the facility failed to develop a plan or interventions to prevent future incidents.
Questions to Ask When Considering a Nursing Home
According to U.S. News & World Report, when considering a nursing home, you cannot answer all of your questions by looking at health inspection reports. You should also tour the facility in person and ask questions of the administrators, staff, residents, other families, and even yourself. Some of the questions it may be helpful to ask are listed below.
Questions for Administrators
- How does your facility handle special needs residents? (Ask specifically about any particular needs your loved one has, such as dementia or diabetes).
- Do you have any specific therapies or innovative options available to deal with my loved one’s condition?
- How does your facility handle incontinent residents?
- How often do staff members take incontinent residents to the bathroom?
- Do you use catheters for residents?
- Are there very many residents at the facility who wear diapers?
- How flexible is the facility regarding meals? Will my loved one have a choice as to what they want to eat?
- How do you keep track of and provide special nutrition for residents who are losing weight?
- How do you ensure that residents who have lost an interest in food are getting the nutrition that they need?
- Are meals available any time, or are they only offered at specific times? Are healthy snacks available?
- Does the facility honor religious or cultural food preferences? Can you show me an example of a weekly menu?
- How does the facility ensure that the food that is being served here is meeting the nutritional needs of all residents?
- How do you prevent residents from falling, and how do you respond if someone has a fall?
- How often is a doctor available? Are there dental, hearing, or optometrist services available at the facility for residents?
- How do you handle resident records? Do you keep computerized records, and, if so, how do you protect residents’ personal data?
- Do you provide flu and pneumonia vaccines? Is vaccination mandatory for residents and staff?
- How are resident medical emergencies handled? Who calls the doctor? Who provides transportation?
Questions for Staff
- What is your staff turnover rate and what is the facility doing to retain quality staff?
- Does the facility use temp agency nurses?
- Do families hire private nurses to supplement the nurses the facility has on staff?
- What background checks do potential staff members undergo before being hired?
- Does the facility have volunteer programs?
- Does the facility have collaborative programs with schools or religious groups?
- What is the facility’s emergency evacuation plan? Do residents participate in fire drills?
- Who helps residents with bathing?
- How often do staff members check on residents during the day? Are regular checks performed at night, as well?
- Does your facility accept my loved one’s insurance?
- How does the facility bill residents, and what are the costs of the facility’s services?
- Are there any new improvements at the facility? Are there any improvements planned?
- Do you enjoy working here? What do you like best about it?
- What kind of training and education did you undergo to get this position?
Questions for Residents
- Do you enjoy living here?
- Do you stay busy during the days here?
- Can your friends and family visit any time they want?
- Does the facility arrange outside activities for you? Do you ever suggest or plan activities?
- Do you like the staff who work here? Do you have the same nurses and aides all the time, or do they change a lot?
- Do you like the food here?
- Are you able to eat any time you want to?
Questions for Other Families
- Does your loved one like the nurses who work with them?
- Has your loved one ever had a fall while at this facility? If so, were you satisfied with how the facility handled the situation, and do you feel confident that it won’t happen again?
- Does your loved one receive help in using the restroom?
- Does your loved one need assistance eating? Do they like the food?
- Has your loved one ever lost interest in eating, and, if so, how did the facility handle it?
- Are you satisfied with how the facility handles prescription medication? Has your loved one experienced any medication problems at this facility?
- Does your loved one participate in activities here? Are there options in the kinds of activities offered?
- Are there different activities scheduled for people of a lower cognitive ability?
- Was your loved one able to bring personal items from home, and does the facility make an effort to safeguard residents’ personal belongings?
- Does your loved one have enough storage space in their room?
- Is there anything you could tell me about this facility that would help me make my decision?
Questions for Yourself
- Is the parking lot full and are there plenty of family members visiting their loved ones?
- Are there activities available, and how well are they attended?
- Does the facility bring in musicians or other entertainers?
- Do schools or youth groups bring children and young people into the facility to participate in activities or entertain the residents?
- Are the residents dressed in their own clothing or are they wearing hospital gowns?
- Do the residents seem happy here?
- Do the staff members seem warm and friendly with the residents?
Other Factors You Should Consider
Selecting a nursing home for your loved one is not an easy decision, and it probably shouldn’t be. In addition to reading the facility’s health inspection reports and reviews, touring the facility, and interviewing administrators, staff, residents, and family members, you should also consider other factors, such as:
- How close is the facility to me? Is it close enough for me to regularly visit my loved one?
- How close is the facility to the nearest hospital or emergency department?
- Is a nursing home the best option for my loved one? Are there other options, such as assisted living or an in-home aide that may be more suited for my loved one’s needs at this time?
Call Our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Now
At the Hughey Law Firm, we know the elderly can suffer from abuse and neglect, even at nursing homes with good reputations and inspection reports. An overworked, careless, inattentive, or malicious staff person, or a corporation that cares more about money than patient welfare, can make terrible mistakes in an instant.
If your loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing facility, including at NHC Healthcare – Greenville, let us help you determine your next steps. Contact us to schedule a consultation either by writing to us or at (843) 881-8644.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464