Nursing home residents in San Diego County and throughout Southern California deserve a high quality of care, and they deserve to know when nursing homes have a history of safety violations. For nursing home residents and their families, it should also be possible to rely on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct proper and timely nursing home inspections, and to attend to complaints of abuse or neglect quickly. Yet as a recent report from KPBS underscores, the CDPH “has long been criticized for failing to properly regulate nursing homes.”
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted particular problems at skilled nursing facilities and the need for improved care and oversight. Yet the CDPH does not seem to have learned any lessons from the pandemic. Indeed, as KPBS reports, the CDPH “is now considering an overhaul of its inspection program that advocates say will further erode the agency’s oversight.”
New Plan Includes Potentially Problematic Advising Role
One of the major problems with the CDPH’s plans to overhaul its inspection program is that nursing home inspectors would, under the planned overhaul, serve as advisors and educators at skilled nursing facilities where they would later conduct inspections. Indeed, according to the report, “under the current draft plan, Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspectors would visit the state’s 1,100 nursing homes a few times each month to advise, educate, and offer technical assistance to improve their standard of care.” What is wrong with this model? As the report highlights, “advocates believe ADPH’s remodel would make inspectors reluctant to judge facilities they’ve advised.”
In other words, if a CDPH inspector advises a nursing home about methods and aims for improving resident care, the CDPH inspector may have an interest in giving the facility a higher rating during an inspection to reflect the good or quality advice provided by that inspector. While the CDPH explains that the intention of the remodel is “to establish a more frequent presence in nursing homes” rather than incentivize positive inspections from inspectors who have previously been linked to facilities, the advising role remains potentially problematic.
Need for More Than Annual Inspections
Beyond the theoretically questionable advisory role that inspectors would take on under the CDPH remodel, the remodel does not attend to the need for more inspections. Currently, CDPH inspectors conduct inspections of nursing homes on an annual basis, and those annual inspections are not making facilities safer. Further, the inspections come across as “adversarial” and “punitive” for many nursing home staff members, who believe that the point of inspections is solely “to find things that the facility is doing wrong and punish them for it.”
Yet developing a “collaborative relationship” between inspectors and facilities is not the solution, according to elder safety advocates. Instead, the KPBS report suggests that there is a need for more than just annual inspections, and the CDPH needs to add more resources and new positions. The solution, perhaps, is for the CDPH to create collaborative relationships with newly appointed advisors who are not also conducting facility inspections.
Contact a San Diego County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit or you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety, our San Diego nursing home abuse attorneys can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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