IDPH has cited and fined Aperion Care of Mascoutah for repeatedly not answering call lights.
The issue raised in the complaint at first blush seems like it may be a trivial one. A resident who needed help getting on a bed pan to go to the bathroom was not getting a response when she sounded the call light for staff to help her. As a result, she had multiple episodes of being incontinent of bowel and was humiliated and embarrassed about it. She reported waiting 30-60 minutes for a response to the call light. When queried about it by the state surveyor, the administrator acknowledged that the DON had reviewed video and seen that call light response times were in need of improvement.
One thing that every member of a nursing home staff agrees to is that residents have a right to be treated in a way that assures their dignity. Failing to answer a call light so that residents are left to soil themselves is a form of nursing home abuse. On a surface level, this may not seem to be a big issue, but it is a sign of what is happening at that nursing home. The fact that call lights are not being answered is an indicator that there is understaffing at that nursing home, which has multiple negative impacts on the delivery of care. Past that, failing to answer call lights trains the residents that no one is coming to help, so they are more likely to get up without necessary assistance, setting the stage for nursing home falls. Understaffing leads staff members to try to use a Hoyer lift with only one person instead of two, setting the stage for residents being dropped while being transferred. Failing to answer call lights to help residents go to the bathroom and instead suffer episodes of incontinence sets the stage for residents to develop bed sores.
There is a saying that little hinges swing big doors, and little things like not answering call lights sets the stage for much worse things to happen. This citation only called out the loss of dignity, but it could just as easily been a much more serious issue. When call lights are not being answered, avoiding catastrophe is the result of good luck, not good care. Relying on good luck is not a strategy for caring for nursing home residents.
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