Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
The nursing home lobbyists have clearly got the attention of the Florida legislature. In the land of the sun and the frailest elderly, the nursing home lobby has persuaded state senator Mike Bennett to file a bill that would eliminate department of health and safety inspections (restaurants would be inspected more often than nursing homes). And while they're at it, they want to do away with inspections by Florida's volunteer long-term care ombudsmen -- freeing staff to spend more time with residents and less time on 'paperwork' and all this redundant oversight.
Too bad they don't have the interests of their own residents at heart. Any group of volunteers (Ombudsman) willing to walk into a nursing home unannounced and speak to residents, perhaps detect anything that appears like mismanagement (residents soiled, listless, unattended and ignored, perhaps even threatened by other residents) is an improvement, not a redundancy.
If Bennett wants to stop the ombudsman assessment programs in Florida, let him fund web cameras on the doorways of each room, monitored by nurses at the nursing station or the local police -- that way they would not have to be interrupted by time-wasting volunteers. And that way there would at least be a record of who did or didn't enter the rooms of the frailest of our citizens -- and where abuse may (and does throughout Florida) occur. Today's nursing homes are also home to the mentally ill (under age 65) because their disability reimbursement funds are needed by nursing home budgets. For those worried about privacy violations, just put the cameras in the hallways monitoring door entrances. The mere presence of these cameras would be helpful.
Of course, this bill isn't about spending capital dollars. It's about cutting nearly inconsequential expense and eliminating a management annoyance. Watch for this proposed 'savings' in other states. While no one really wants to move to a nursing home, circumstances sometimes make it impossible to avoid. So nursing homes need more and more visitors, not fewer.