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“Home for the Holidays” Best Option with TN Nursing Home Problems?

December 18, 2007

Nashville, TN – "Home for the Holidays" looks like a safer choice than a nursing home for many older and disabled residents of Tennessee, a consumer watchdog says, after the state told 20 nursing homes to stop admitting new patients because of basic health and safety issues. That's twice as many such facilities as were shut down last year.

Donna DeStefano with the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee says families of the elderly and those with disabilities are wondering if taking advantage of in-home support services might be a safer option to manage their loved ones' medical and safety issues.

"The natural progression is you end up in a nursing home. That's not so much the thinking at this point. Home and community-based services do exist and most people prefer them."

DeStefano says some states help people pay for health and living services at home so they don't have to go to an assisted living facility, and they've found it saves money to keep people living in their own homes. She says Tennessee should explore such options.

A nursing home organization says the violations occurred because inspectors are getting stricter. DeStefano says it's about time, because after residents died in a Nashville nursing home fire a few years ago, an investigation showed safety standards had not been met.

"If you have something that's going to potentially endanger somebody in a fire, you need to get that fixed, and if it takes a moratorium or a closing or whatever to get that fixed, then that's what it's going to take."

Nursing homes are notified ahead of inspections, and have 23 days to respond with a plan to correct deficiencies before action is taken.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - TN