California nursing homes below standards

The Associated Press
Thursday October 17, 2002

SACRAMENTO — A majority of California nursing homes fail to meet federal standards and nearly half have not met minimum nurse-staffing levels set by the state, a review by a health care group found. 

The California HealthCare Foundation also found that nursing homes have a very high turnover among workers, with 78 percent of nursing staff leaving their jobs from 2000 to 2001. The foundation released the 32-month study Tuesday. 

The foundation also launched a Web site that gives details on all 1,406 nursing homes in California. The site compares homes based on complaints, citations, nursing staff turnover and other characteristics. 

“I was surprised that things weren’t better than they were,” said lead researcher Charlene Harrington of University of California, San Francisco’s School of Nursing. “We just found a lot of quality problems in the nursing homes. It’s really pretty depressing.” 

The foundation used statistics from nine public databases, including inspections and financial reports. Among the report’s findings: 

— Nonprofit homes devote more staff attention to each patient and had far fewer deficiencies than for-profit competitors. 

— Hospital-based nursing facilities performed better than freestanding ones. 

— Better staffing generally meant better care. Nursing homes reporting 4.1 hours of care per resident per day provided significantly better services, including feeding assistance and helping residents out of bed.