Elder Care

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Watsonville Nursing Home Lawsuit May Drive Effort to Reduce Overmedication

 (Philippe Hugue/AFP/Getty Images)

(Philippe Hugue/AFP/Getty Images)

By Ina Jaffe, NPR

A federal lawsuit against two Watsonville nursing homes may offer a new approach to dealing with the persistent problem of such facilities overmedicating their residents.

The lawsuit details multiple cases when the government says these drugs were inappropriately administered to patients. Watsonville is northeast of Monterey, in Santa Cruz County.

For instance when an 86-year-old man identified in the lawsuit as Patient 1 was admitted to Country Villa Watsonville West, he could speak clearly and walked in under his own power. Within days the facility began giving him Haldol and Risperdal, drugs used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and he became bedridden, stopped eating and developed bedsores and infections. Continue reading

San Francisco’s Elderly Chinese Suffer from Nursing Home Closure

Mission Bay Convalescent Hospital closed in February. (Vinnie Tong/KQED)

The Mission Bay Convalescent Hospital was home to 35 elderly Chinese immigrants. Only two found a new place in San Francisco. Some have passed away since the move.  (Vinnie Tong/KQED)

By Vinnee Tong

Too often people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about who’s going to take care of them at the end of their life.

It’s not hard to imagine why: It’s scary and stirs up all kinds of emotion.

People appreciated Mission Bay because it was familiar, geared to its Chinese-speaking residents.

At the same time, financial pressures can make the whole topic even harder to deal with. For starters, if you need a bed in a home with full-time care, the decent ones are hard to find and cost a lot.

That’s why the closure of one small place in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood is being felt so acutely. The Mission Bay Convalescent Hospital served a community of elderly Chinese, most of whom didn’t speak English. Now the building’s been sold, its occupants scattered, and the city’s supply of affordable nursing home beds is even smaller. Continue reading

5 Things to Remember When Choosing a Nursing Home

(Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock)

(Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock)

KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting have teamed up to tell a decidedly sobering story of abuse by caregivers in California nursing homes. If you’re wondering who’s protecting the elderly, perhaps the most haunting quote is this one from Brian Woods, former director of the state Department of Public Health’s office in West Covina (Los Angeles County):

“I would tell anybody: Do not count on the government taking care of you,” Woods said.

I’m not sure whether to feel disheartened or furious. But what the KQED and CIR reports speak to are the need for patients (if possible) and certainly their families and loved ones to be very engaged when selecting a nursing home in the first place.

When you are looking for a nursing home, there are “time-tested methods for identifying and evaluating nursing homes,” according to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a leading statewide advocate for long-term care for the last 30 years. I talked to Pat McGinnis, CANHR co-founder and executive director.

1) Visit in person: It sounds pretty basic, but this was one of the first things McGinnis said. “People will look to the (Medicare) five-star approval,” she said, in reference to Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website, “but we’ve got five-star facilities that are terrible and two-star facilities that are good.” Websites are a starting point, but you must go take a look — and be sure to visit more than one facility. Then, trust your gut. If you get a bad feeling right off the bat, pay attention to that feeling. Continue reading