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State is in the house

February 23, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
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This facility has been expecting the state surveyors to pop in at any time. Tuesday, I paid little attention when three women entered the front lobby during breakfast. I knew a staff meeting was scheduled that afternoon, so I thought they were corporate people.

Suddenly, the aides assisting with breakfast became very quiet. After breakfast, I noticed staff members were moving about quickly. I usually ride my wheelchair around the hallways until aides are available to assist me. But on that morning, the aides moved quickly toward my room.

Soon after, one of the aides mentioned that “state” was here. Then I realized why things were different. The entire staff was at attention, and some employees were quite anxious. Each time I put my call light on, at least one and sometimes two aides answered it. I know aides want to answer the call lights promptly, but the hairtrigger response was a bit overwhelming.

I saw the state surveyors speak with different residents. At least two of the surveyors were toting small laptops. One or both of the surveyors remained in the dining room during meals. I know at least one resident was uncomfortable with that and left without eating.

At the start of second shift, the younger, less-experienced aides huddled in my room. They wanted to ask my experienced aide what to expect from the surveyors. She gave them some helpful tips and they left. Afterward, she shook her head and said she wished they would just remember what they learned in aide training. That evening the survey team stayed until after 7 p.m.

There was a sigh of relief when the state surveyors left on the third afternoon. But residents and staff survived. At breakfast the following day, a resident announced that the nurse manager told him the survey went well. Even though the residents were treated to pizza the previous afternoon, the nurse manager told him they would be treated to it again next week.

I am sure he and many other residents wish the surveyors came more often.

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Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...