Survey shows grievances over nursing homes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Survey shows grievances over nursing homes

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- AARP released survey results Tuesday morning showing older Iowans want stronger enforcement of nursing home regulations.

This comes after January's decision by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals to cut nearly a quarter of its nursing home inspectors, from 38 to 28.

Iowa has more than 400 nursing home facilities, which house approximately 30,000 residents.

Bethany Home, a popular nursing home and assisted living facility in Dubuque, has a waiting list for potential residents. Still, administrator Glinda Manternach said inspections are important for all nursing home facilities.

"We all need to have checks and balances," she said.

The state's 28 inspectors, however, may find themselves strained after losing 10 staff members.

"I think they have a very big paper load that they have to take care of, too, and maybe that needs to be looked at and maybe some of that cut back for them," she said, adding that inspectors' annual reports are often subjective and the process could stand a revision.

Bethany Home resident Irma Cody said she's lived at the facility for seven years and enjoys her time there.

"It's a very pleasant place. Everyone is so friendly," Cody said.

She agrees that inspections are important.

"I think it keeps everyone on their toes and doing their job," Cody said, adding, "Bethany Home's been fortunate: I don't think they've had a big turnover in employees at all."

Scenic Valley Agency on Aging caregiver specialist Joan Ness said a quality staff tops many people's criteria list when choosing a nursing home facility.

"What brings it up to the next level is when the caregivers are also caring, when they like their job and it brings them joy to make older people happy," Ness said.

Ness said other criteria include good food, clean facilities and companionship.

"I am very proud of the staff here," Manternach said, "and it shows that they want to be here. They are friendly when you walk in the door and they are friendly throughout the whole day."

Iowa nursing home facilities undergo annual inspections, and the reports are available to the public online.

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The AARP survey also showed four in 10 of those surveyed said that health care is the single more important challenge in their lives.

AARP conducted its survey in January through random phone interviews with 402 Iowans who were at least 50 years old.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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