New Jersey’s Troubling Nursing Home Situation
According to a survey from AARP and the Commonwealth Fund, New Jersey’s nursing homes are far from comfortable—and even worse, many are dangerous.
New Jersey’s elderly and disabled populations pay the sixth-highest amount in the nation for nursing home care every year, according to the survey. The cost of nursing home care is between $300 and $400 per day for New Jersey nursing home residents, and this cost is driven up by the sub-par reimbursement rates from the state Medicaid program. (Sixty percent of nursing home care is covered by Medicaid, so nursing homes have to rely on other patients to pay the difference.)
But unfortunately, these high prices are not translating to higher standards of care. The state still ranks in the middle of the pack as far as quality and availability of services, despite being in the top 10 of financial investment in nursing home care.
Pressure Ulcers/Bed sores
Bedsores are a serious problem in New Jersey nursing homes, affecting 8.1 percent of all residents (compared to the national median of 5.9 percent). New Jersey is the second-worst state in the country when it comes to preventing bed sores in nursing homes.
Approximately 60,000 patients die from bedsore-related complications each year, according to a 2009 report. Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, affect a large number of bedridden patients, and they can serve as a sign of subpar care in hospitals or nursing homes. If pressure ulcers are not noticed and treated in the early stages, various other medical conditions can develop. Chronic pressure sores can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that typically requires surgery. Joints and bones can become infected, also knows as septic arthritis, which can damage cartilage and tissues, as well as inhibit joint functions. Open pressure sores can allow bacteria to enter the patient’s bloodstream, leading to sepsis and organ failure. Untreated bedsores can also lead to cellulitis, in which connective tissues become inflamed and possibly develop meningitis.
If a bed sore is allowed to progress to Stage III or Stage IV, it could be a sign of nursing home neglect; if nurses are paying proper attention to patients and ensuring they move around at regular intervals, bed sores should never progress to the dangerous or life-threatening later stages.
Despite being nearly last in bed sore care and having the sixth-highest cost of care, New Jersey as a whole ranks 26th in terms of nursing home care. The state was able to stay in the middle of the pack thanks to certain effective nursing home practices and state policies. However, it is certainly clear that New Jersey nursing homes have a long way to go before they are considered safe, comfortable, and healthy homes for elders and people with disabilities.