AARP, state lawmakers want to improve nursing home care - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

AARP, state lawmakers want to improve nursing home care

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WSIL-- Many families struggle with the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. When they do, they want to ensure that loved one receives the best care possible. 

State Senator Jacqueline Collins is working with AARP to amend Illinois' Nursing Home Care Act. "No one should put a loved one in a nursing home to die. You put your loved ones in a nursing home to receive the quality of care that I believe they deserve," she says. 

Senate Bill 1510 would enforce the state's minimum staffing requirements, heighten public transparency of nursing home violations, and enhance safeguards for administering psychotropic medication. 

Ryan Gruenenfelder, Director of Advocacy and Outreach for AARP Illinois, highlighted the state's inadequate performance in staffing, "Illinois nursing homes rank at the bottom, that's 50th in the nation, for direct care nursing hours per resident per day." 

He also touched on the misuse of medication, "Nursing homes give anti-psychotic drugs to long-stay residents without a psychiatric diagnosis making Illinois the second worst in the nation on the statistic."

A woman who has worked as a CNA for 11 years shared how understaffing and mismanagement of medications actually looks in a nursing home. 

"They giving them psychotropic drugs to keep them still, so they don't get up. But, they might get up because they are wet," she explains. "I can't change everybody every two hours, pass all these meals. I can't do all of that."

The bill also calls for more public transparency of nursing home violations. Illinois Department of Public Health's 2018 data shows six nursing homes in the region had violations ranging in fines of $500 to $2,000. One of those nursing homes had two additional violation fines. 

Senator Collins will present the bill in the Senate Human Services committee next week. News 3 will continue to track the legislation's progress. 

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