Advocates are questioning why nursing home deficiencies at Utah facilities were not shared with doctors and families. A series of deficiencies and penalties has many concerned about nursing home regulation in the state. Could lax oversight increase the risk of nursing home abuse or neglect?
Nursing Home Deficiencies Lead to Penalties
According to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune, in 2017, a variety of nursing home deficiencies were noted at Pine Creek Rehabilitation and Nursing. The deficiencies included:
- Not notifying doctors quickly enough when resident blood sugar dropped.
- Pharmacists were not reviewing medications and regimens as often as they should have been.
- Residents were drinking out of one another’s glasses during meal time.
Subsequent inspections noted additional deficiencies which prompted the Utah Department of Health to take action. Pine Creek was placed on a list of nursing homes that could not participate in programs to train certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The ban was for two years beginning in August 2019.
According to state records, at least 19 other nursing homes have similar disciplinary records. To make matters worse, families of residents have access to inspection reports online, but they were not informed that nursing home deficiencies were serious enough to warrant penalties. Family members would have to look up the records online in order to find out the details.
Instead, only CNA programs were provided with the information. The reason being so that students are not sent to these facilities for clinical training. Nursing homes that perform poorly are not considered good environments for training. The bans on CNA training are raising some serious questions about Utah’s regulation of nursing homes. One advocate asks,
“The question is why would a facility not be safe to train CNAs but be safe to house residents?”
Current CNA Bans in Utah
The current list of long-term care facilities in Utah with a ban on CNA training includes:
- Avalon West Health – Taylorsville
- Crestwood – Ogden
- Lomond Peak Nursing and Rehabilitation – Ogden
- Millard County Care and Rehabilitation – Delta
- Millcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing – Millcreek
- North Canyon Care – Bountiful
- Paramount Health – Millcreek
- Red Cliffs Health and Rehab – St. George
- Seasons Healthcare and Rehabilitation – St. George
- Sunshine Terrace Foundation – Logan
- Uintah Health Care Special Service District – Vernal
- The Terrace at Mt. Ogden – Ogden
Coronavirus in Utah Nursing Homes
In addition to the bans on CNA training, many of these facilities are battling coronavirus outbreaks. In April, Pine Creek became the first nursing home to be strictly COVID-19 only. This designation was lifted in May.
Avalon West Health and Rehabilitation Center reports that 12 residents have died due to coronavirus. They are the only facility currently reporting the number of deaths. There is no public accounting for deaths in nursing homes, though the state reports around 400 total coronavirus-related deaths.
AARP Utah estimates that 45% of coronavirus deaths are likely in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Like in many other states, there is a lot of focus on nursing home preparation and handling of coronavirus. Susan Chapman, a professor of nursing at the University of California San Francisco notes,
“If a nursing home was performing poorly prior to [an outbreak], it is not going to be ready to manage COVID.”
The Role of CNAs in Nursing Homes
CNAs are an important part of day-to-day life in nursing homes. CNAs provide a lot of the general care of residents, including common medical care under supervision. These important staff members are the “eyes and ears” of nursing homes. They spend the most time with residents and often see and hear what’s happening in the facility more than administrators or nurses.
CNA trainees require clinical training in order to complete their certification. Trainees have classroom education that is supported with real-world experience. In most states, trainees must have 100 hours of training before they can take their CNA certification exam. Twenty-four of those hours must be in a long-term care facility.
But with coronavirus outbreaks so common in nursing homes, many regulating agencies have waived the long-term care facility requirement, and instead, allow CNAs to train in clinical settings or laboratories. Some believe that this is detrimental because the experience is important for CNAs who want to work in long-term care facilities. Likewise, having CNA trainees in the facility can help provide much needed staff support for residents.
With staffing shortages being one of the top reasons cited for nursing home abuse and neglect, many advocates are concerned about the bans on CNA training. CNA trainees help support staff, and can be a valuable tool in filling in gaps in staffing.
The Risk of Nursing Home Abuse
There are many factors that increase the risk of nursing home abuse or neglect in facilities. One of the most common factors is a staffing shortage. When there is not enough staff to properly care for residents, it is difficult to manage the daily needs of every resident. This, unfortunately, leads to nursing home abuse and neglect.
Staffing shortages lead to nursing home abuse and neglect because:
- Staff members are overwhelmed
- Stress leads to unfavorable behavior
- Residents do not get the care that they need
- Resident calls may go without answer
- There may be a delay in medications and medical care
Sadly, staffing shortages are often a preventable risk. Nursing homes must make sure that they have adequate staff and that all residents receive adequate care. When they fail to meet these requirements, residents are put at risk. As in the case of many Utah facilities, nursing home deficiencies related to staffing and care can result in penalties.
If someone you love lives in a nursing home and you have concerns about staffing, abuse or neglect, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center. Our legal professionals can help you understand nursing home resident rights and your options to protect your loved one. To learn more, call us at 1-866-548-9636.