Survey grades area nursing homes, assisted living facilities

One nursing home out of four surveyed, and one assisted living facility out of three surveyed in Washington County received above-average marks from residents in the state’s 2013 Long-term Care Resident Satisfaction Survey.

“We’ve conducted the survey since 2002 or 2003, and over the years we believe the surveys have helped provide better quality of care from facilities through feedback from residents,” said John Ratliff, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Aging. The survey asks a variety of questions, from specific queries about meals and dining and relationships with staff members to more general, such as “Overall, do you like this facility?” and “Would you recommend this facility to a family member or friend?”

He said the survey scores, available online, also help families who are going through the process of finding a suitable care facility for their loved ones.

A total of 27,085 residents in 953 nursing homes across the state took part in the 2013 survey, while 11,013 residents in 958 assisted living facilities participated.

Locally, residents gave Heartland of Marietta a rating of 90.2, nearly three points higher than the state average of 87.5 for nursing homes, and The Pines at Glenwood rating of 96.7 was 4.4 points higher than the 92.3 state average for assisted living facilities.

“There’s a big push statewide for residents and patients to have more say in the care they receive, but this is something our company already had in place,” said Ashley Neenan, administrator at Heartland of Marietta.

She noted Heartland’s resident council plays a key role in helping make sure the facility is meeting the wants and needs of those who are staying there, whether on a short- or long-term basis.

“Any resident or patient here is automatically a member of the resident council. They have a president and vice president and even have to approve any staff members who want to sit in on their meetings, so they have a lot of say here,” said activities director Debbie Wilson.

Neenan said the state requires all nursing and assisted living facilities to have a resident council, but Heartland’s council is more involved than most, and the company listens and tries to accommodate the residents’ requests, which results in better resident satisfaction.

Joe Lemon, director of the Glenwood Retirement Community, said the assisted living facility’s resident council also plays a big part in services provided for folks living there.

“Our council meets regularly and residents have the opportunity to express concerns if they have any,” he said. “But we really don’t hear a lot of concerns here.”

Lemon said the state’s resident satisfaction survey can be a good place to start when looking for a long-term resident facility.

“It’s a way to help people see where they might like to go, then follow up with a visit to the facility,” he said.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities whose resident satisfaction survey points do not match or exceed the state average can lose reimbursement funds from Medicaid, Ratliff said.

“They have to meet at least five of 20 measures, including scoring at or above the state average on the resident satisfaction survey, to receive full Medicaid reimbursements,” he said. “This has been in effect for the last two years.”

Ratliff said the amount of the Medicaid funds reduction is based on a pro-rating of how far below the state average the nursing home or assisted living facility was rated.

Washington County nursing homes that participated in the resident survey but fell below the overall state average of 87.5 included Harmar Place and Extended Care, just under the state average with an 87.23 rating; Arbors at Marietta with a score of 83.72; and The Marietta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with a 79.48 rating.

Assisted living facilities in the county that received ratings less than the state average of 92.3 in the 2013 survey included Emeritus at Marietta with a score of 91.8, and The Woman’s Home of Washington County with a rating of 88.

Debi Stengel, administrator for the woman’s home on Third Street, said the state survey ratings don’t tell the whole story for those seeking a good assisted living facility.

“We do watch the resident survey results that come out every other year,” she said. “All of our residents are interviewed for the survey. But I’m also a big proponent of seeing is believing. People need to come out and see these facilities before making a decision.”

Stengel said she encourages families to check out the Ohio Department of Aging website for basic information about facilities across the state. But that’s no substitute for seeing facilities firsthand.

Robin Collins, social services coordinator at the O’Neill Center in Marietta, has worked for nursing facilities in the past, and noted resident surveys can be misleading.

“The facility may be understaffed and overworked, so they can’t give residents as much attention and care as nursing homes that have better staffing,” she said.

Collins agreed that a physical tour of long-term facilities is best.

“I don’t tell anyone where they should go, but I advise families to pay a visit to facilities without telling them you’re coming, and make those visits more than once and at different times of the day,” she said. “That way they can see how the facility operates morning noon and night.”