U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush is calling on the government to investigate the ongoing “horrific practices and pervasive failures” in the senior care facility industry. In a letter to Chair Diana DeGette, the Illinois Democrat cites facilities owned by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) as the leading cause of this distress. In the letter, he calls for a hearing to examine the matter.
“I believe that the profiteering, cold-hearted nature of these corporations must be exposed, and it is up to Congress — and specifically, the Energy and Commerce Committee — to shine a bright light on the current practices, to reign them in, and to set and strictly enforce high standards for performance,” he writes. “It is Congress’s job to stand in-between greedy corporations and those who are the most defenseless. As such, we must prohibit REITs from operating nursing homes: if they own the real estate, then they should not be given the authority to operate the nursing homes and should not get one red cent of taxpayer money to operate these nursing homes. To do otherwise will allow the elderly, the sickly, and the most vulnerable to continue to suffer.”
The letter comes just a month after President Joe Biden announced plans to improve the quality of the nation’s nursing homes. Under the proposal, the administration aims to improve the safety and quality of nursing home care, hold nursing homes accountable for the care they provide and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent for potential residents and their families.
The Biden administration isn’t alone in calling for reform of nursing homes. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is calling for sweeping changes within the country’s senior care facilities, claiming they provide ineffective care, are poorly staffed, and poorly designed and maintained.
The report calls for:
- creating incentives for new construction and renovation of nursing homes to provide smaller, more home-like environments and smaller units within larger nursing homes
- ensuring new designs include private bedrooms and bathrooms
- allowing flexibility to address a range of resident care and rehabilitation needs.
- reinforcement and clarification of the emergency support functions of the national response framework
- formal relationships between nursing homes and local, county, and state-level public health and emergency management departments
- representation of nursing homes in emergency and disaster planning and management sessions and drills
- ready access to personal protective equipment.
Mackenna Moralez is assistant editor with Healthcare Facilities Today