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President and Ceo of Indiana Association of Homes and Services for The Aging Reb ...

In a letter to the Editor of the Indianapolis Star Newspaper, President and CEO of the Indiana Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Jim Leich, wrote the following retort to a January 6, 2009, article titled, “Indiana nursing homes rated among worst.

Amongst other things, the article attempted to counter the very poor ratings his organization and several Indiana Nursing homes received under the CMS new five-star rating system. According to Federal Government officials, the system was put into place to create accountability for the facilities and help end consumers make good choices in the homes they choose for their family of loved ones:

“We understand that The Star’s article on the government’s new five-star rating system for nursing homes must be creating anxiety for nursing home residents, their families and facility staff.

However, quality nursing home care is without a doubt available in Indiana. What we did not see in The Star’s article about the new federal rating system is that the Indiana Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s nonprofit and governmental members scored 49 percent higher on the staffing rating and 37 percent higher on the overall rankings than other Indiana facilities.

Hoosiers have choices for excellent nursing home care in our state and we should be proud of our devotion to our elders.

The key to finding quality is using more than one tool to evaluate a nursing home. While the federal rating system is a good first step, multiple errors and problems have been identified with the data used, particularly for staffing.

Don’t just rely on the five-star system; use your five senses during a visit. The selection of a nursing home must include multiple decision points: Does it have a good reputation? Is it close to family members? Do the activities offered match my interests?

Ask a lot of questions when you visit. Without a doubt, staffing is the best indicator or quality. If you are visiting a nursing home, watch how the staff interacts with the residents. Do they ask about people’s families? Do they seem to know the residents’ interests and concerns? Do you see evidence of strong relationships when you are walking around?

We believe there should be two types of nursing homes: the excellent and the non-existent. Working together, we can achieve this goal”.

Jim Leich

President and CEO, Indiana Association of Homes and Services for the Aging