After I moved into a for-profit nursing home in 1996, it appeared there was plenty of everything, from food to linens. To me it seemed extravagant that dietary put a tea bag on my trays when I drank it only at breakfast. I also received condiments that I never used. But perhaps dietary felt that was more economical than an aide running back and forth to the kitchen. “Quality” was in the facility's name and the care was good. Its state surveys reflected as much.
As the years went by and ownership changed, we residents noticed supplies were less plentiful. In dietary, the quality of the food declined. There were cutbacks in laundry and housekeeping. Fewer staff had to do more and we wondered how all of our rooms could be cleaned thoroughly. One dedicated daytime laundry person produced large quantities of clean linen and clothing. But the person who worked on her days off was not as diligent, and residents had to wait longer for clothing as their dirty laundry piled up for the next shift.
When the facility downsized, shortages became more apparent. Some days treatment nurses did not have necessary supplies to treat their residents. The central supply aide complained that it was impossible to stay within her budget. It became routine for the facility to run out of 2X disposable briefs. Bariatric residents had to decide whether to wear a smaller size or rest on a washable incontinent pad.
During the last three years of my stay we seldom had enough towels and washcloths. Aides had to wait to shower and wash up their residents. Management said aides were throwing linens away instead of sending them out to be laundered. Residents were also blamed for hoarding them. But we residents were frustrated when there were no towels and washcloths when we needed them. The issue was brought up at resident council and most of the time more linen was ordered afterward. We never did know the source of the problem.
Even though I am in a different facility now, there are still problems with shortages. Tissues are available intermittently and many times we are low on toilet paper.
The 50 residents in this facility probably create the laundry of a 100 residents. If these younger residents are able, they take showers when they want. Housekeeping has had a difficult time keeping up, until two months ago when one housekeeper was assigned to do laundry, which has worked out well. She does the work promptly and keeps track of our clothing.
Cuts in Medicaid reimbursement have impacted nursing homes and their supply budgets, which affects the lives of residents. Younger residents expect more and will complain if they can. I feel supplies and linens are necessities. When we do not have what we need our wellness and wellbeing decline.