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Delaware lawmakers eye nursing home quality concerns

Delaware Public Media
Rep. Michael Ramone

Delaware lawmakers are searching for ways to improve conditions in nursing homes across the state. Some legislators are saying the quality of care in some nursing homes is a concern.

Townsend resident Donna Price told members of the Joint Finance Committee that more needs to be done to protect seniors in nursing homes. She said staff at the Dover facility where her mother was living failed to check on her, keep her clean or feed her.

State Rep. Michael Ramone said he started the budget hearing thinking nursing homes didn’t need more oversight. But he’s changed his mind.

Ramone said the problems stem from low pay and a high rate of staff turnover. He says lawmakers are considering ways to keep and attract nursing home workers.

“It’s more than just caring for someone, there’s this internal driven aspect that I think has to be prevalent and it’s so difficult to get that in prevailing way in all of our senior care facilities because of the lack of pay and the situation we have currently,” he said.

Ramone also said lawmakers are discussing trying to enhance the wages and the training of nursing home workers.

“There was some discussion about you know doing what we can do to create an environment where there would be a higher level of retention, maybe some sort of a structured steps of quality where their pay would be enhanced tied with longevity of getting their pay enhanced,” he said.

Ramone added that using a similar incentive for daycare centers is another idea. The STARS program rates early education providers and rewards high quality facilities.

Private companies run most of the state’s long-term care facilities. The state runs two facilities: the Governor Bacon Health Center and the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill.

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