Mass. nursing home staffing levels vary a lot

New data indicate staffing levels at Massachusetts nursing homes vary considerably, with 16 percent of the facilities rated “below average” or “much below average.”

The staffing ratings are an indicator of the quality of care but they also may be an indicator of the nursing home’s fiscal stability. Officials from the nursing home industry say many of their facilities are in danger of going out of business because of inadequate funding from the state.

The data, gathered by Medicare but analyzed and compiled by Kaiser Health News, measures staffing levels in a handful of different ways.  The primary measurements are the number of total staff relative to residents and registered nursing staff relative to residents, but the same data are also used to measure staffing levels on the best-staffed days and the worst-staffed days. The most recent data covers the three-month period from January to March 2018.

According to the data, Massachusetts has 395 nursing homes, and 7.4 percent had staffing levels (total staff and registered nurses per residents) that were much below average. Another 8.8 percent were rated below average. Of the remaining facilities, 28 percent were rated average, 16 percent were rated much above average, and the rest were either above average or a combination of average and above average.

Skyline Healthcare announced in April that it was voluntarily shutting down five facilities – three in New Bedford, one in Dighton, and one in Fall River. Of the five, three (Bedford Village in New Bedford, Highland Manor in Fall River, and Dighton Care and Rehabilitation) had staffing levels during the first quarter of 2018 that were rated much below average; the other two were rated average.

Other facilities rated much below average in terms of staffing included Baker-Katz in Haverhill, Bethany in Framingham, Bridgewater Nursing Home, Brighton House in Brighton, Fitchburg Gardens, German Center in Boston, Jesmond in Nahant, Lanessa in Webster, Maplewood in Amesbury, Mattapan Health and Rehabilitation Center in Boston, Odd Fellows in Worcester, Phillips in Lynn, Poet’s Seat in Greenfield, Pope in Weymouth, Riverbend in Natick, Rivercrest in Concord, Seven Hills in Groton, Soldiers Home in Chelsea, Timothy Daniels in Holliston, West Roxbury Health and Rehabilitation in Boston, West Side House in Worcester, and Westborough Healthcare.

The ratings also looked at how staff-to-resident levels fluctuated. On the days when overall staffing levels were the worst, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did on weekends, when the staffing levels were the worst.

David Stevenson, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Kaiser Health News that the volatility in staffing probably means gaps in care. “It’s not like the day-to-day life of nursing home residents and their needs vary substantially on a weekend and a weekday. They need to get dressed, to bathe, and to eat every single day,” he said.

But officials at the American Health Care Association, a trade group, said there are legitimate reasons why staffing levels fall on weekends – there are fewer activities and more family members are visiting patients.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Top House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Brad Jones, who once served as a vocal check on centralized power and the lack of transparency in the chamber, have largely traded that watchdog role for generous earmarks in the budget process, report the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Matt Stout.

Attorney General Maura Healey fines Brooks Brothers and DesignWerkes $5,000 apiece for asking about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications. (MassLive)

Workers at the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families say they are understaffed and overworked. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

During discussion of the school budget, Chelmsford Town Moderator Jon Kurland stopped one of the representatives from asking about reallocated funding, telling her it was “none of your business,” the questions were rude, and she should already know the answers. (Lowell Sun)

Attendees of the Bourne town meeting have voted to pay an extra $2.8 million for a wastewater treatment facility in Buzzards Bay. (Cape Cod Times)

After a spirited debate at town meeting, Marblehead decided to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Globe columnist Adrian Walker says the Red Sox management — if it’s as “haunted” by the racist views of former owner Tom Yawkey as current owner John Henry professed — should follow the lead of manager Alex Cora and most of the team’s players of color and turn down the invitation to the White House to recognize the World Series champs. Dorchester Reporter publisher and editor Bill Forry says Henry should also take a stand as owner of the Globe, since President Trump has regularly declared the press to be the enemy of the people. A Herald editorial says Cora should go and try to “influence the president.”

President Trump made it official — he’s not turning his tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee. Next move is up to US Rep. Richard Neal, who chairs the committee. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

Western Mass. activist and writer David Daley, in a Globe op-ed, blisters his congressman, Richard Neal, for his aggressive collection of campaign fund from lobbyists — and his lavish spending — as the new chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Voters in Brewster will not be placing ighter zoning regulations on recreational marijuana businesses that would have banned a majority of those operations. (Cape Cod Times)

Full-time work eludes thousands across Massachusetts. The number of underemployed remains high years after the recession.  (Brockton Enterprise)

EDUCATION

The Metco program that busses students from Boston and Springfield to suburban school districts will begin making selections by lottery rather than the waiting list it has used for years. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Steve Odom has been dead for 12 tears, cut down by bullets meant for somebody else, but his father Ronald feels like it was yesterday. Still, Ronald Odom feels he has come to terms with his son’s death in part because of the help of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute. (CommonWealth)

ARTS/CULTURE

Marlborough is launching the state’s first Museum in the Streets. (MetroWest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak says the T needs more internal capacity — more employees, really — to meet its investment targets. (CommonWealth)

T notes: South Shore customers disappointed in lack of action on later train…Less jargon, more explanation of T projects….Electric battery buses arrive… Delay in new fare system should allow for better discussion of fare enforcement issues. (CommonWealth)

MassINC Polling Group’s Maeve Duggan says Boston’s policy of not charging for resident parking stickers is a “regressive” approach that has lower-income residents, who disproportionately don’t own cars, paying for the upkeep of roads they don’t use except via public transit (which is hampered by all the curbside parking). (WBUR)

Charlie Chieppo, of the Pioneer Institute, thinks traffic has gotten so bad that the political penalty for doing nothing is starting to outweigh the penalty for supporting higher tolls or gas taxes. (WBUR)

Massachusetts passenger traffic on the Amtrak trains running between Vermont and Washington, DC, is growing steadily, particularly out of Northampton. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

A black woman accused a bus driver with the Worcester Regional Transit Authority of racial bias for refusing to pick her up, a charged denied by the driver and the authority. (Telegram & Gazette)

CASINOS

As expected, Wynn Resorts asked the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to allow it to sell alcohol until 4 a.m. (MassLive) Some advocates are raising alarms about the idea, saying the casino will be overrun with those looking to continue drinking after all other bars close at 2 a.m. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

US Attorney Andrew Lelling says concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at courthouses are “somewhat exaggerated,” and they are “never looking for a witness.” (WGBH)

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross blasts local judges for letting a burglary suspect out after each of three different arrests over the past month. (Boston Herald)

A Boston police captain who is the first Muslim to hold that rank is under suspension, but the department isn’t saying why. (Boston Globe)

A conclusion has been reached in the internal investigation into whether or not the use of force on a 17-year-old male student at Fall River’s Resiliency Preparatory Academy last Thursday was justified. Professional Standards investigator Sgt. J. T. Hoar said he’s completed his investigation but needs to meet with Fall River Police Chief Albert Dupere and school superintendent Matthew Malone before announcing the results. (Herald News)

Freed in 2016 from a three-decade prison sentence for rape, George Perrot has been accused of rape again after he was discovered unconscious on top of an unconscious, partially naked woman in Lawrence in January. (Eagle-Tribune)

Dr. Walter Levitsky’s criminal trial has ended with the jury divided over whether he committed assault or conducted a legitimate breast exam. The Peabody neurologist admitted to calling a woman “sexy” after putting his hands on her bare breasts. (Salem News)

Facing a slew of charges, including a seventh drunk driving offense, Robert Cook, a 67-year-old Melrose man was released on bail to the surprise of prosecutors. (Salem News)

MEDIA

Big layoffs at the Times-Picayune in New Orlean in the wake of its purchase by its former rival The Advocate. (New York Post)

Amazon is considering offering payments to publishers to expand their coverage overseas and attract an audience that might be interested in the wares the company sells. (Vox)