Nursing-home study: Inspection system 'broken and can't be fixed'

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AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix
AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix
A leading nursing-home association is calling for an independent panel to come up with new methods for overseeing nursing facilities. The association's task force issued 31 recommendations Tuesday, highlighting steps that can be taken until such a panel can be convened.

"The frustration of good providers has reached a boiling point," said Tim Veno, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, and a task force member. On Tuesday, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) issued its report, "Broken and Beyond Repair: Recommendations to Reform the Survey and Certification System."

 "Our short-term suggestions alone won't bring the system back to the intent of OBRA 87-achieving optimal, quality-based, resident-centered care-but they will tide the system over until broad systemic change can occur," said Bonnie Gauthier, CEO of Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford, CT, and co-chair of the 20-member task force. Immediate changes needed, according to report authors echoing years-long provider sentiment, include better public reporting of survey results, joint education of providers and surveyors, and greater overall consistency in the process.

The 31 recommendations include short- and long-term goals, such as improving communication to surveyors and providers about new requirements and changes to the survey process; standardized job descriptions for surveyors; and flexibility to adapt to culture change. The full report can be found at: http://www.aahsa.org/advocacy/nursing_homes/documents/SCTF_Report_FINAL.pdf.

 "We have to break the cycle of fear that paralyzes us all: consumers fear nursing homes, nursing homes fear the state, states fear the federal government, the federal government fears Congress and Congress fears voters," said Larry Minnix, AAHSA's president and CEO. "This system is angry, broken and can't be fixed."