What if the elderly didn’t need to worry that the last years of their life would be spent in a worn out, institutional nursing home, and could instead look forward to a comfortable space with quality medical care and a caring staff?
That’s the question I couldn’t help asking myself when caretaking for my grandfather and, in turn, struggling with the deficiencies in elder care.
Upon further investigation, my experience wasn’t just a personal observation or opinion. According to Nursing Home Abuse Guide, nearly one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could, or did, cause harm to elderly residents of those facilities.
So, I decided to tackle the problems head-on starting with the basics—the physical facilities themselves—by founding The Allure Group. I began to buy bankrupted facilities and transform them into comfortable, quality service centers that cater to the needs of communities and residents.
The first step to solving complex problems, naturally, is to assess the current situation and come up with a game plan. That’s exactly what Allure did with the former Victory Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn. When we first stepped in, the facility was in foreclosure and on the verge of shutting down. Now known as Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, it’s a rehabilitated, restored, 200-bed facility that offers everything from short-term rehabilitation to palliative and hospice care.
Keeping hospitals and nursing homes open, and fully functional, is crucial to ensuring the elderly get support when they need it. When a skilled care home shuts down the situation for the residents of that home can go from bad to worse, quickly.
In one noteworthy case, in October, 2013, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) closed the Valley Springs Manor Residential Care Facility for the Elderly for multiple violations. While most of the residents were re-located, about 16 were left behind. Two men, Maurice Rowland, a cook, and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor, refused to leave. They cared for the seniors for several days, caring for them as best they could, until the local sheriff’s department finally stepped in to help with an evacuation.
According to the Huffington Post, this closure “eventually led to the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014, which aims to strengthen the health, safety, and security of residential facilities.”
As helpful as it can be, I’ve come to realize legislation isn’t enough. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have a five-star quality rating system for nursing homes. The ratings are based on staffing, health inspections and quality measures (11 different physical and clinical measures.)
When Allure bought the Crown Heights Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation property, it had a CMS star rating of 2. Allure aims for 5-star ratings, which Crown Heights has now earned under our leadership. We aim for this not because of legal standards (all of which are always met or exceeded) but because caring for the elderly must be a priority—and is our priority.
It takes more than checking off a list of must-dos: It takes a great staff, and community involvement and cultural awareness. For instance, Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center now has a Longevity Garden Program specifically designed to welcome and accommodate the needs of the local Chinese community.
Along with bilingual physician services, authentic Chinese cuisine is prepared daily by a specially trained chef and meals are served in an intimate setting so residents can dine together. Quality of life is about more than pills and a bed; it’s about the people who live, heal, and work in the hospitals and homes that make up the Allure group.
Buying bankrupt and near-to-closing nursing homes lets Allure breathe new life into old facilities and improve the quality of life to those Allure serves. While smart legislation and healthcare innovation will be key in solving other problems nursing homes have, prioritizing facility quality goes a long, long way.