Kansas Long-Term Care Residents Express Concerns Over Inadequate Living Conditions and Staff Response


TOPEKA – In a nursing home in Overland Park, Rita Headley has seen many elderly Kansans without access to reliable care and unable to live with dignity.

Headley, who worked for 30 years at a nursing home in Fort Scott in various roles, said she knew the treatment residents should receive, and the Overland Park Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing did not. provided. In many cases, this was due to a staff shortage who saw only one or two assistants on each shift on their floor, Headley said.

Often the food served is cold and staff are not available to help reheat it. Headley said she sometimes went months without getting her hair washed and even had to cut back on her fluids so she didn’t have to rely on staff to use the bathroom as often.

“In addition to being short-staffed, they often lack supplies and have poor communication between staff and administration,” Headley said. “They work with agency nurses who don’t know other staff or residents. I have had bad experiences with them being too blunt and argumentative.

Headley and several other residents of long-term care facilities and their families were represented before the Kansas Elderly Care Task Force on Tuesday by Camille Russell, the Kansas ombudsman for those in those facilities. Russell and other private citizens appearing in person have expressed concern about the conditions described at some of these facilities.

Another resident represented by Russell – Cerena Mitchell of Lakepoint Wichita – provided a list of cases in which she received inadequate treatment. Of most concern to her were several unreported falls and vermin in her accommodation.

In the first instances where she fell and used a light call system to call for help, it took between 45 minutes and an hour and 45 minutes for staff to respond. In a more serious case, where Mitchell broke her left foot, the establishment said it did not pay enough money to have ice cream delivered to the room and that the cost of delivering the trays room rate would be increased to $ 7.

“I hobbled with my walker about once a day,” Mitchell said. “When I walked into this property, they had a waiting list of people wanting to rent the one bedroom apartments in this lobby, and now most of them are empty.”

Mitchell also noted heating issues during the winter, cold food, cockroaches, and general cleanliness issues.

Not all of the establishments or residents who agreed to share their experiences with Russell had negative things to say, but the majority expressed unease or dismay with the establishments. She put into perspective the issues she had heard as an ombudsperson for the task force lawmakers by explaining how easily it could be their loved ones or even one day themselves in these situations.

Representative Jarrod Ousley noted the impact of COVID-19 on conditions in long-term care facilities as he wondered how the state could help residents and facilities move forward. (Noah Taborda / Reflector Kansas)

Diagnosed with cancer the same week she took office as ombudsman, Russell learned soon after that a blood pressure problem could lead to a stroke. Her thoughts immediately shifted to residents of long-term care facilities who may not have the supports to deal with these issues.

“I immediately thought of that person who had a stroke in a nursing home,” said Russell. “It could be any of us, and I was scared and rarely scared. There are good people who work in retirement homes. There are good people who own and manage retirement homes. But we can do better. “

Representative Jarrod Ousley, a Democrat from Merriam, reflected on how COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation and where and what the state could do to rectify some of these shortcomings.

“It doesn’t appear to be isolated in a house or an area of ​​the state,” Ousley said. “It seems to be spread over large areas. … Where do we go from here? “


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