National Nursing Home Week spoiler

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Saturday marks the conclusion of National Nursing Home Week – and providers might be breathing a sigh of relief that it is almost over.

A week that is supposed to be celebratory was marred this year by a couple of dismal government findings.

First, speaking before a House committee on Thursday, Lewis Morris, chief counsel to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, said that one in five nursing homes delivers care that is directly harmful to residents.

This came on the same day that a Government Accountability Office report revealed that state surveyors missed at least one serious deficiency in 15% of inspections checked by federal officials between 2002 and 2007. That increased to 25% of the surveys in nine states.

These are critical findings that should not be taken lightly.

Now you have to pardon by insensitivity. Yes, improving care is of the utmost importance, but couldn’t the agencies have picked a different week to drop these quality missiles? You have to wonder sometimes if these occurrences are more than coincidental.

The American Health Care Association established the event in 1967. How ironic is it that the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations picked the week designed "to celebrate quality,” “strengthen relationships with family members,” “recognize staff members who demonstrate excellent caregiving,” and other worthy objectives, to shed light on the opposite?

As important as they are, the despairing part of government hearings and reports like these is that they discourage those special people and homes that work every day to do some of the toughest work there is.

And they shouldn’t. Not during National Nursing Home Week. So, listen up, all you worthy caregivers: Don’t let the government’s research rain on your parade.

**Readers, in the spirit of the week, do you have any heartwarming short stories about the nursing home or long-term care facility in which you work? If so, please share.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.