Ask the average American if given the choice (if there comes a time when they need some type of care and support as they age), most will immediately choose home care over assisted living. Part of this desire stems of seemingly endless stories of problems, abuse, neglect, and more that come out of nursing homes. The problems don’t end there, though, as some secret VA reports highlight major quality control issues at nursing homes operated by the Veterans Administration.
The VA has apparently been compiling and collecting a host of data on the nursing homes it uses for its veterans for years, but hasn’t made this information public. According to sources, it uses these reports for strictly internal purposes, but documents that were obtained by USA Today and The Boston Globe indicate there are some major issues the VA has not only been aware of, but that also highlight the need for better access to in-home care support.
According to the USA Today article, Secret VA nursing home ratings hide poor quality care from the public, written by Donovan Slack:
“Statistics the VA has not released paint a picture of government nursing homes that scored worse on average than their private sector counterparts on nine of 11 key indicators last year, including rates of anti-psychotic drug prescription and residents’ deterioration. In some cases, the internal documents show, the VA ratings were only slightly worse. In others, such as the number of residents who are in pain, the VA nursing homes scored dramatically worse.
The worst-performing VA nursing homes were scattered across 32 states, including Pennsylvania, which had five one-star facilities, as well as Texas and California, which had four each. The VA facility in Bedford and another in Brockton, Massachusetts, were the only one-star nursing homes in New England.”
Representatives at the VA have noted that there are issues with some of the nursing homes they operate and use, but that utilizing a straight line comparison is unfair because many of the patients in their nursing homes have more complicated health issues.
The VA has been under increased scrutiny in recent years due to problems at their hospitals, but as the direct and indirect costs of nursing home care and other medical treatments continue to climb, a more cost-effective option becomes appealing. That option is home care services.
While the VA may still promote the care its veterans receive from hospitals and nursing homes, more people are realizing the true value in remaining home, surrounding by familiar comforts and receiving more personalized, direct care that may be provided by experienced health aides and visiting nurses.