In February, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine created the Ohio Governor’s Nursing Home Quality and Accountability Task Force to “study issues surrounding quality of life and quality of care in Ohio’s nursing homes,” according to the Ohio Department on Aging.
The task force embarked in a series of “listening sessions,” meetings held around the state to get input, and a Brookfield woman participated in a March 7 session at Youngstown State University.
Karen Saker, a resident of O’Brien Memorial Health Care Center, Masury, one of the Windsor House family of care centers, said task force officials were keen to learn about the admissions process.
“The admissions packet you get when you come here, the thing you have to sign everything and initial and read, is 87 pages long,” Saker said in an interview March 29. There is a lot of duplication, “legalese” and “mumbo jumbo” to wade through, and some of it she still doesn’t understand.
“I had my cousin help me, who is a nurse, a retired nurse – she could not understand some of the stuff in that packet,” Saker said, adding that a staff member also could not help her.
“There are 20 pages that need signed off on,” she said. “I said, make one sign-off sheet for the whole thing.”
New patients are not told where anything is, or when mealtimes are, Saker said.
“I’ve, personally, given people tours of the place,” said Saker, who cannot walk due to knee issues. “Somebody should be doing that.”
“The activity director asked me yesterday (March 28) what I thought about establishing a welcoming committee, like, a resident and staff member to greet new residents and help them,” said Saker, who was accompanied at the listening session by Pastor Dick Smith of Brookfield United Methodist Church, who talked about the role pastors could play in helping people who are going into a nursing home.
Attempts to reach Windsor House for comment were unsuccessful.
Saker said she believes staffing is an issue, both in the support staff and the care staff, although she said she realizes finding people who are qualified to work is a problem in healthcare and many other industries.
She said she complained to Windsor House’s corporate office, particularly about the midnight staff, when often only one nurse and one aide are on duty to serve about 40 patients in the unit in which she lives, and was told the company meets state guidelines for staffing.
“It’s a big place,” Saker said. “They’re just running all the time. The (staffing) guidelines are wrong. The reality is different from the guidelines.”
Like Saker, many people in her unit need the help of a lift to get out of bed, and it takes two staff members to get someone up, she said. The midnight staff gets residents up in the morning, she said.
The lifts are another bone of contention, Saker said.
“The Hoyers (lifts) here are in horrible condition, and never, almost never, during a lift, does it go smoothly,” Saker said. “It stops working at some point almost every time they lift me. When I went to administration about it I was told, ‘Well, they’re not using the batteries properly. They’re not recharging them properly.’ That’s not it. The issue is the Hoyer itself. I figured out, what they need to do to get it to work, is a wiring issue on the remote control.”
She said she also has complained about medical staff talking about someone’s medical issues with other residents present, but has no issues with the quality of care she is provided.
“They take good care of me,” she said. “The staff, the direct-care staff, are wonderful. They keep the place clean. The food is acceptable.”
The complaints she has registered get to quality of life, she said, adding that state officials have been in touch with her since the listening session.
“I have great hopes that something is going to happen to make things better,” she said of the task force’s work. “It’s a statewide initiative, and the governor is really behind this and really pushing to get it done. I have hopes that it is going to make some changes; maybe, small changes. Those changes make a big difference to quality of life.”