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Inside, During a Survey

August 17, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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The facility’s anticipated annual survey began late Monday afternoon when an Ohio Department of Health nurse knocked and asked to check my water temperature. That surprised me because I cannot remember a surveyor ever doing that. After she asked a few questions, she said she would return Tuesday morning.

The air was electric Tuesday as department heads assisted residents to and from breakfast. Since I am president of Resident Council, a surveyor asked to interview me at midmorning. She used a touch screen laptop with a stylus to fill in my answers. I was pleased to see up-to-date equipment, but I wondered how my answers would be interpreted.

Later Tuesday morning the administrator asked if I was being asked weird questions. I told her they were different. The questions were specific but it was difficult to answer some with a yes or no. I was questioned by two surveyors about different topics.

I was pleased we were not required to have a Resident Council meeting with surveyors asking questions. That always made me uncomfortable since I was eager to speak while some residents were incapable and others were reluctant.

The surveyors interviewed 40 residents and felt it was better talking privately with a resident or their family member.

One surveyor experienced a first. When she approached a male resident beginning a nap following an activities lunch outing, he said, "No thanks. Good night."

The surveyors were more visible than in past years. One surveyor said that even though her job is more difficult, she is getting more accomplished.

After four tense and busy days last week and part of today, I am sure the staff is glad the survey is over, and so are the residents.

Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



I am so glad to hear that thorough surveys are being done.
However what I would really like to see happen is for Facilities to be visited secretly kind of like a secret shopper (without their knowledge) so that the day to day patient care can be observed without a heads up to the staff.
Surveys are easy to manipulate.

I have been doing some research regarding nursing facilities and i grow very concerned for the quality of patient care when there are only 2 attendants to care for an average of 12 patients and the attendants work 12 hour shifts often with no breaks because then they get behind on their patient tasks.
It is my understanding one of the biggest problems is the attendance of the Attendants. I have been told by many people that I have interviewed that if an attendant does a no show it is not unusual for the other attendant to have to care for all of the patients on their Hall without any help and if they do get help then the other hall is short an attendant.
The strain on the attendants is incredible !
Whenever I read med / floor studies it is the RN's that give the feedback and when I follow the news regarding the medical staffing shortages I observe it is the nursing quotas that are of concern.
I very RARELY hear concern or credit given to the Attendant aspect of health care...
Patient Attendants deserve much more credit than society in general gives them. Attendants do almost everything for the patient they carry the heaviest work load and they get paid the least.
I never knew this until I did the research.

Food for thought : As I interview Attendants about the things that happen in sr/nursing homes ... they are eager to share the experiences but only if I do not mention names . I asked why the stipulation and I was told
because they could lose their jobs something to do with HIPPA.
I hear the word Burn Out alot..... I can tell you there are many people working in the health care field that are past burn out but remain in the field for the paycheck.
I do not personally begrudge anyone a pay check but When it comes to health care it takes a very special people to do these type of jobs. There needs to be a way to ensure that the right peole are doing these jobs.

Foot Note:
A person should never have to be in fear of losing their job when they are speaking honestly and for the benefit of another. Many Sr's cannot speak for themselves or will not because they do not want to cause trouble ( they have to live there afterwards) hence they are subject to settle for whatever treatment is given to them.

I know a woman who has her mother in a nursing home the mother is 90 she no longer talks and has started to atrophy the daughter visited her 1 time so far this year.... pretty disturbing to think about .
It is not unusual for seniors in such a helpless state to get ped off and simply left for months or longer to be cared for by a stranger and noone that cares to check in on them.

Who ensures their safety comfort and well being ?
The attendant ? the nurse on duty ?
What if these people are burnt out ??? then what ?

Thanks to the Don't talk rule I cannot imagine a soul would dare speak.

I am going to research the HIPPA protocol to make sure that is correct because that just does not sound right.

Sounds like a QIS survey. They haven't made it to Massachusetts yet. Survey is more like the gestapo marching into town. It's all based on punitive measures instead of collaborative sharing to benefit the residents.