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Texas Among Nation's Worst for Quality of Long-Term Care

PHOTO: It couldn't get much worse for long-term care in Texas, according to areport that ranks the state 49th in the nation for quality of care and quality of life. Photo credit: Xavi Talleda/Flickr
PHOTO: It couldn't get much worse for long-term care in Texas, according to areport that ranks the state 49th in the nation for quality of care and quality of life. Photo credit: Xavi Talleda/Flickr
June 19, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas – It's a finding that's being called dismal, as a scorecard on long-term care ranks Texas 49th in the nation for quality of care and quality of life.

Trey Berndt, associate state director of AARP in Texas, says among the factors in that low quality rating were the high staff turnover at nursing homes, the percent of high-risk residents with bed sores and the percent of residents receiving anti-psychotic medication.

"That's a very concerning finding because that suggests that folks in nursing homes may be being medicated as a way of restraining them behaviorally rather than the nursing doing proper assessments and doing proper interventions for behavior problems," he says.

The 2014 scorecard is from the Commonwealth Fund, the SCAN Foundation and AARP.

Berndt says this scorecard comes on the heels of a report from the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission on the Department of Aging and Disability Services, finding that the agency issues very few sanctions for nursing home violations.

"Including serious and repeated violations and in that study they say that that leaves folks in nursing homes in harm's way," he points out.

While Berndt says there are many quality nursing homes in the state, he also says there needs to be stronger sanctions and stronger enforcement against those so-called bad actors with a repeated history of violations. And he notes it's an issue important to all Texans.

"Everybody eventually will have a family member that needs quality long-term care or they themselves may need quality long-term care,” Berndt stresses. “This isn't something that's happening just to other people, this will eventually effect everybody's family."

Recommendations on how the Department of Aging and Disability Services can make improvements will be outlined at hearings next week, with a final decision by the Sunset Advisory Commission expected in August.

Despite the troubles on quality, overall Texas ranked 30th for long-term services and supports with strong showings in the areas of affordability and access, support for family caregivers and choice of setting and provider.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX