Report: Louisiana nursing homes second worst in U.S.

Louisiana nursing home care ranked second-worst in the nation, failing every staffing measure in a report by Families for Better Care, a nonprofit group whose goal is to improve long-term care.

The group scored, ranked and graded states on eight federal quality measures, such as the average number of hours of nursing care each resident received per day.

Louisiana nursing homes provide care for around 30,000 people. The report gave Louisiana an F and said the state’s nursing home residents receive “a paltry” 32 minutes of professional nursing care per day. The report also criticized Louisiana nursing homes for having the fewest facilities with above-average nurse staffing.

Joseph Donchess, executive director of the Louisana Nursing Home Association, said the report was filled with “half-truths” and “no truths.”

For example, the professional nursing measure did not include care by licensed practical nurses, or LPNs. The report does not mention that Louisiana nursing homes provide three hours of LPN care per resident per day, several minutes more than the national average.

Donchess said Louisiana is only a few minutes below the national average in both nursing assistant and physical therapist staff hours per resident per day.

“We believe a shortage of a few minutes should hardly score an F,” he said.

Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, said the group looked at registered nurses and direct-care staffing, or nursing assistants.

“We are looking at the most skilled professionals working in the nursing homes who … have oversight of those front-line caregivers,” Lee said.

A shift is taking place in the business model for some nursing homes so they can compete with the flood of home health agencies and assisted-living facilities. Nursing homes are becoming more like transitional care units, providing care for shorter-term stays, Lee said. RNs are important in the new business model because the short-term patients will need a high level of skilled care.

The report found that only Texas ranked worse than Louisiana. The top states were Alaska, Hawaii and Maine.

The report’s overall findings nationally show:

  • A need for more professional nursing staff. Only seven states provided more than one hour of professional nursing care per resident per day.
  • A need for more staffing overall. Nursing homes in 96 percent of states offered residents less than three hours of direct care per day.
  • Widespread abuse and neglect. One in five nursing homes abused, neglected or mistreated residents in almost half of all states.

Lee said slipshod care in far too many nursing homes has culminated in thousands of painful or deadly blunders nationally.

States should take a hard look at nursing home care and figure out what’s working so residents can receive safer, more affordable care.

Donchess said Louisiana nursing homes are improving.

In 2012, 87 percent of families and residents said they would recommend their facility to friends and loved ones, Donchess said.