We’ve made it 150 Episodes! In celebration of this milestone, we are dedicating the episode to highlighting five valuable resources to families of loved ones in nursing homes. From informative websites to advocacy groups, nursing home lawyers Rob Schenk and Will Smith discuss the must-know tools to help prevent neglect in Georgia nursing homes.
Schenk: Welcome back everybody for a milestone episode of this podcast. The Nursing Home Abuse Podcast has reached 150 episodes.
Schenk: I cannot believe it.
Smith: That’s a lot.
Schenk: It started off as weekly, then bi-weekly – bi-monthly.
Smith: Started from the bottom and now we’re here.
Schenk: Now we’re at the middle but closer to the bottom.
Smith: Right, still near the bottom.
Schenk: Still near the bottom. No guest this week – me and Will are going to take you guys home on episode 150. We actually put our ties back on. We should actually – I’m going to do this – Gene, can you put up on the screenshot – not the screenshot, but the thumbnail of Will and I on Episode 1, because I think we had ties on for the first episode as well. But we put ties on again. I actually might have the same red ties.
Smith: Yeah, ties started dwindling off the longer that we did this because it’s hot in here, we’re not in court.
Smith: Most of you are listening to this anyways, and I have to wear a tie all the time.
Schenk: But at any rate…
Smith: It’s my professional cross to bear.
Schenk: Yeah. So on this episode, we wanted to kind of highlight some of the resources that we learned about over the years of doing this podcast, just resources that if you have a loved one in a nursing home in Georgia, five resources that you should know about and why.
Smith: Five really important weblinks for you to go to and get all the information you need.
Schenk: That’s right. So the first one we’re going to talk about is the Nursing Home Compare website. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a.k.a. CMS, has a website in which they put a bunch of data on, and that data is compiled by CMS from the nursing homes. They get staffing levels. They get information about complaints and surveys and health inspections and yada-yada-yada. They put it into a blender and they spit out rankings, essentially, one out of five stars. So the nursing homes are ranked on a five-star scale on Nursing Home Compare.
Smith: And just understand that all of these resources, they’re best used – I don’t want to say with a grain of salt because it’s important information on here – but there is certainly no small amount of controversy regarding the rating system and how they come up with these stars. So just because you see something that’s a five-star doesn’t mean, “Well this is perfect. I don’t need to look any further.”
Schenk: That’s right.
Smith: There’s lots of information that you can gather by looking at the reports that they have. And this one, this website in particular, is Medicare.gov. Go to the Medicare.gov – it’s the /nursinghome portion, but you can also just look up Nursing Home Compare, and it will be the first Google hit that you get.
Schenk: And before we get too far away from Will’s point, we talked about navigating the Nursing Home Compare website in great detail in Episode 83 of the podcast in August of 2018 with the guest Richard Mollot. And what I was going to say was what Richard Mollot said is that just like what Will said, just because there’s a five-star doesn’t mean it’s good. However, it’s a good indication that the nursing home is bad if it has one or two stars. You can rest assured that the nursing home is probably not that great if it’s a one or a two-star, but just because it has a five-star doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good, if that makes any sense.
Smith: That’s a very important point. It doesn’t go the other direction. So just because it’s high-ranking doesn’t mean it’s a great nursing home, but if they low rank it and it’s got one star, there is no way at all that it’s actually a five-star and they just messed up.
Schenk: That’s right. So I would recommend and Will would recommend that you use Nursing Home Compare in conjunction with other ways of finding a nursing home that is right for your loved one. So in other words, I would use Nursing Home Compare before finding a nursing home, like you use that as part of your investigation process to select a nursing home as opposed to using it once your loved one is already in that nursing home, so to speak.
Smith: That’s a very good point too. Use it before they get there, not as something to actually make the selection.
Schenk: And that’s number one.
Smith: And speaking of number one, speaking of Richard Mollot, that could segue into the number two one.
Schenk: Number two.
Smith: Which I think is one of the – if I could just give a shout-out and a plug to Richard and the whole crew, it is one of the best resources period on the Internet.
Schenk: That’s right. Our number two selection should be number one or is number one as far as Will is concerned, and that is, once again, a website called NursingHome411.org.
Schenk: Org – NursingHome411.org is the brainchild of Richard Mollot and really all the people involved in the Long-Term Care Community Coalition. NursingHome411 has all types of resources and educational materials for residents of nursing homes and their loved ones. We’re talking webinars, seminars, pamphlets. If you wanted to know, for example, about formal grievance processes and the regulations, you can print out the pamphlet and it’s there. He’s designed – when I say he, it’s Richard Mollot and the Long-Term Care Community Coalition – has designed this website as a go-to source for you to just go and you can click, read and watch and print out something to literally take with you – checklists, all kinds of things, and we would highly recommend that you use the Long-Term Care – sorry, Long-Term – stupid – NursingHome411.org website as a resource for you. Just have it bookmarked. Have it bookmarked on your laptop, on your iPhone, whatever you’ve got, and use it. If you go to the nursing home and perhaps – maybe you don’t see somebody washing your hands and you’ve got questions about infection control, go on that website and look it up. You can see it. You can find out what are the regulations when it has to do with infection control policies in the nursing home? He’s got it all there. I promise you.
And Richard is an attorney and so not necessarily because of that, but he knows how to read the federal regulations and the state regulations and really put them in layman’s terms. So in other words, he’s going straight to the source of the regulations and really kind of getting it down to the nitty gritty in ways you can read and understand, and not just read and understand but actually argue yourself when you go to that nursing home. You can say, “You know what? No, I want to see the formal complaint process, blah-blah-blah.”
So NursingHome411.org – and again, if you want to know way more about NursingHome411.org from Richard Mollot himself, listen or watch Episode 97 of this podcast, which came out in December 2018 where Richard Mollot actually takes us through that website. That was a very interactive episode where you could watch it and he guides you through how to use the website. But even without that, the website is very intuitive, so it’s very easy to use. So that’s number two on the five resources for Georgia nursing home residents.
Number three is the ADRC. And what is that? It is the Aging and Disability Resource Connection.
Smith: And the website is just GeorgiaADRC.com.
Schenk: And so the Aging and Disability Resource Connection is basically kind of like a one-stop shop for all types of questions that you might have about nursing home care and where to get it in the state of Georgia. Just a quick shout-out, the ADRC is basically – every state has one. In Episode 113, which came out in April of 2019, we had on the program Melissa Cisneros from New Mexico to talk about that. So if you want to learn more about the ADRC, go listen to that episode. But in short, what do they call it when you call and they have to give you an answer? What do we call it?
Schenk: No, like, “We will get you the answer you’re looking for?” I can’t remember. But I recommend that you go there in the instance that maybe you need to get your loved out out of the particular nursing home that you’re in but you don’t know where to go. You don’t know what nursing home facilities around you take Medicare or Medicaid, these types of things, or what they’re rated and things like that. The ADRC is a good resource to find that type of information out. So again, what was that? GeorgiaADRC.com, right?
Smith: Yeah, it’s GeorgiaADRC.com. So there’s double-A’s in the middle of it, but it’s Georgia and then ADRC.com.
Schenk: And then the next resource if you have a loved one in the nursing home is perhaps one of the most important ones, and that is the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. We’ve had multiple episodes about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, particularly in Georgia, so if you go back to Episodes 59 and 60, we had William Whited, who is a long-term care ombudsman in Oklahoma, and then Episode 73, we had Melanie McNeill, who heads up the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program here in Georgia.
Smith: And Melanie is an attorney and also an alumni of Georgia State, as are we.
Schenk: Go Purple Panthers?
Smith: Go Panthers, yeah.
Schenk: Just Panthers? But they’re purple though.
Smith: Well I think in some instances they may appear purple.
Schenk: Are they blue?
Smith: They are blue.
Schenk: They’re Blue Panthers.
Smith: Yeah, but you don’t really call mascots by their color.
Schenk: What about the – well my high school were the Golden Bears.
Smith: Were they actually brown or blonde though?
Schenk: I mean it was golden, like golden.
Smith: Ours were the Warriors, the White County Warriors.
Schenk: I want to say my elementary school were the Golden Eagles. So you don’t have like the Yellow Badgers?
Smith: I guess you do.
Schenk: The Blue Devils.
Smith: Yeah, the Blue Devils.
Schenk: The Blue Devils – all right. All right.
Smith: I stand corrected.
Schenk: All right.
Smith: All right, so it is – just for everyone who is listening, it is Georgia Ombudsman, and I’m emphasizing that because it’s GeorgiaOmbudsman.org. So it’s a Swedish word. It’s not “ombudsmen.”
Schenk: And one day it’ll be Georgia Ombudsperson.
Smith: Well I think it’s a Swedish word. Yeah, okay. Ombudsperson. But it’s www.georgiaombudsperson – it doesn’t even matter.
Schenk: Well Will, what does the ombudsman do? What does the ombudsperson do?
Smith: They’re advocates. And they go and they essentially speak for and on behalf of long-term care residents. It could be for anything at all. It could be something that a resident has a right to or it could be something that a resident doesn’t have a right to. It doesn’t matter what it is. Their job is to go there and to advocate for that resident. So if it’s, “Hey, I want a left-handed nurse on Wednesday,” it doesn’t matter that they don’t have a right to that. The ombudsman goes there and says, “Is there anything we can do? There’s not? Well sorry, Mr. Johnson, I did my best.”
But the reason I bring that up is that is what their goal is – what does the resident want? I’m going to go see if I can make it happen. It’s up to the regulations and the powers that be that decide whether or not the resident has a right to it. The ombudsmen, they don’t make that call. They just go out and they advocate on behalf of the resident.
Schenk: That’s right.
Smith: And typically it involves a lot of things like, “I don’t like my roommate. Can I get a different morning schedule? Can I get different food?” things like that.
Schenk: That’s right. So the fifth resource for nursing home residents is the Georgia Department of Community Health. And this is really a resource in the sense that they are there to hear a complaint and investigate it and potentially cite the nursing home for violation of Georgia and federal regulations. So what’s the – yeah, you’ve got it pulled up.
Smith: This is one of those things where the actual URL to file the complaint is too convoluted for anyone to listen to or go to, but it’s dch.georgia.gov is the Department of Community Health’s website. The best thing to do is look up “file nursing home complaint Georgia,” and it’ll take you to dch.georgia.gov/hfr-file-complaint.
Smith: Anyway, no one’s ever going to pay attention to that. So the main thing is go to the Georgia Department of Community Health website and you can file a complaint online. Now be prepared for this to take a while because Georgia is really backed up with complaints, but this is the place where you can go and download regulations, you can go look up information about Georgia criminal background checks and their system facility and provider information. It’s a host of other contacts for that regulatory agency in the state.
Schenk: And again, we touched on this a couple episodes ago, I think it was Episode 147, where this is separate and apart from the grievance you can file with the nursing home itself. So just because – you have to be the judge of the severity of the problem. So if the safety and health of your loved one is in jeopardy, then yeah, go to the Department of Community Health and file a complaint. If it’s something less than that, then file a grievance with the nursing home. Every nursing home is required to have a formal grievance process you can go through, so you can do either one of those things.
Schenk: So to recap the five resources, not exclusively the five but the five that we’re talking about today, resources – there’s a lot of resources for you but the five resources for Georgia nursing home residents are the Nursing Home Compare website. You also have the NursingHome411.org website. You have the ADRC, which is also a website, GeorgiaADRC.com. You have the long-term care ombudsman as a resource for you. And finally number five is the Georgia Department of Community Health, which is the agency in charge of regulating long-term care facilities in the state of Georgia.
Schenk: This week, we’ve batched these so far in advance, but this week I think is National Nursing Assistants Week.
Schenk: And let me just tell you this right now because this is about the time where it would happen, but if there was a Nursing Home Abuse Podcast drinking game, then you would have to take a drink whenever Will mentions that he was a CNA for 10 years in Georgia nursing homes.
Smith: Right. I actually don’t think you would be able to make it through – you would be drunk pretty quickly.
Schenk: I would be willing to bet you that every episode references that.
Smith: It does.
Schenk: Actually this would be a good game because I really think there are a few things we do often. Number one is “pigs are cute, hogs get slaughtered.” If you take it, that’s Will, that’s at least once every four episodes.
Schenk: “You can’t get blood from a turnip or a rock.”
Smith: That’s me again.
Schenk: Okay, that’s Will. You take a drink then. That’s about once every six or seven episodes. “Getting everybody on the same sheet of music.” That’s another Will expression, you drink on that. For mine is the word “awesome.” I think having edited about a thousand of these episodes is when it’s like, once the guest has been introduced, I say, “Awesome.” Awesome. Mentioning that I was in a band – me mentioning that I was in a band is a drink.
Smith: Is it?
Schenk: I think so. I think we talk about the band or Daniela actually.
Smith: Something with Daniela.
Schenk: Something about Daniela is definitely one where you have to drink. So you can get very drunk on the Nursing Home Abuse Podcast.
Smith: And then some obscure reference point, like what was the 1790?
Smith: Like some obscure reference point like, “For those of you who didn’t know, Teddy Roosevelt’s second uncle was actually the Library of Congress’s first…”
Schenk: And I do that?
Schenk: Okay. Yeah, okay. I don’t feel like I do that, but…
Smith: Okay, well the audience knows.
Schenk: The audience knows. What else? 150 episodes. I feel like we’ve earned a couple minutes just to talk about ourselves.
Smith: Yeah. Well I think another you could do is me hitting this microphone.
Schenk: Oh my gosh.
Smith: I can’t hit this microphone enough.
Schenk: It’s like it’s connected…
Smith: Or breathing heavy.
Schenk: I feel like that’s gotten worse in the years of doing this. I feel like the last four or five episodes that you’ve been a part of, it’s like almost as though you’re making a crank call to somebody that you want to scare to death.
Smith: No, I just – I don’t know.
Schenk: Yeah. What else? I think that covers a lot of it.
Smith: Who’s been on the podcast the most? Well Teresa Boynton.
Smith: She’s three times.
Smith: Richard Mollot.
Schenk: It’s 100 percent Richard Mollot.
Smith: It’s 100 percent Richard Mollot.
Schenk: Richard Mollot I think is six times.
Smith: He’s been on here more than we have. There’s an extra podcast that plays at the end if you let this go, at the end of the album, that’s just Richard Mollot.
Schenk: I’d say Richard Mollot has been on the most amount of times, but beyond that, I think it’s a tie because a few people have been on two or three times.
Smith: If you play these podcasts backwards, it’s an autobiography of Richard Mollot read by the author.
Schenk: There was one point where, I don’t know if I told you this or not, Will, but I had accidentally published a version of…
Smith: He caught it. He caught it.
Schenk: Yeah, an episode of the podcast that was not supposed to air because me and Will couldn’t figure out what was going on and we were using a lot of profanity and it was actually published to the Internet. And Richard emailed and was like, “I’m not quite sure what kind of podcast you’re running here but you might want to check and see what’s going on with it,” and sure enough, it was me and you being idiots.
Schenk: But luckily he took that in stride as a nice guy. And let me just say this, for every guest that we have on this show, it’s possible that 20 to 25 or more invitations go out. At this point, I’ve send a thousand, at least, invitations for guests to come on the show. Obviously by the numbers, very few people respond at all, and those that do respond, decline. Richard responds every time. We have a lot of guests like that. A lot of people are very – they just want to help and we really, really appreciate that.
Smith: Well this is all that his work is dedicated to. That’s the whole purpose of NursingHome411.org is that it’s nonprofit. It’s designed to get the information out there. He’s a true believer and an academic.
Schenk: Yeah. But again, thanks go out to all the guests that have appeared because it’s just fantastic, like people take time out of their day, like Mark Kosieradzki – Kosieradzki, sorry.
Schenk: He’s probably one of the most decorated nursing home abuse litigators in the entire country and he came on. He came on two episodes.
Smith: Yeah he did.
Schenk: Two episodes.
Smith: And spent time talking with us. Yeah, it was good.
Schenk: It was good. We’ve had a lot of attorneys on the show. I guess that makes sense. Well I think that’s a lot of patting ourselves on the back. That’s all we’ll allow ourselves after 150 episodes.
Smith: We’ve had my brother on twice, right?
Schenk: No, just once.
Smith: Just once?
Schenk: I think just once. No, maybe twice.
Smith: Maybe twice.
Schenk: He talked about bedsores.
Smith: Yeah, I think he was on here twice.
Schenk: That was a good episode.
Schenk: Oh Clay, the family connection. I would like to give a shout-out to my mother for listening. She listens sometimes.
Schenk: And so does your mom.
Smith: She does, my maker. But yeah, Mimi listens. Mimi listens regularly. She’s the only person that listens all the time – that’s Rob’s mother.
Schenk: That’s my mom – Mimi. All right, well that’s enough of that.
Smith: No more.
Schenk: No more of that. For anybody who has ever watched, I want to say one more thing, for anybody who’s ever watched this program and you’ve ever wondered, and now – first of all, if you’ve ever watched the program, it’s a small number. And of that small number…
Smith: We had 6,000 on that one.
Schenk: Yes, that’s true. And then a subset of those that have watched have ever wondered what the blue flag is on my desk, this is the flag that gets moved if there needs to be an edit made. So if it’s sitting like this and then all of a sudden there’s a jump cut and you see it like this, that’s how you know that there’s an edit that needed to be made.
Smith: You know, and interestingly enough is that I had opened up “I am Will Smith, ask me anything” on Reddit related to this podcast, and literally everybody got on there and they made a point of saying, “Nobody had ever wondered what the blue flag was.”
Schenk: I’m going to have an admission here is that I don’t know what Reddit is.
Smith: Okay. I don’t know how to explain what Reddit is. It’s like trying to explain what a meme is. Reddit is the front page of the Internet. It’s one of the first websites that dealt, that looked back at the Internet itself. It’s about the Internet. It’s the first place that had memes. It really was. I think it was the first place that all of these different entities and characters for the Internet… Anyways, it’s Reddit. So I don’t know.
Smith: And one of the features they have on there is “I am so-and-so, ask me anything, AMA.”
Schenk: Oh, so that’s where that’s from. I’ve watched a few of those.
Smith: It could be anything from, “Hey, I’m Frank Stallone.”
Schenk: He did the soundtrack for Cobra?
Smith: He also did a song in “Staying Alive,” which was the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever.”
Schenk: Well there’s a drink because I feel like that’s a deep reference.
Smith: Yeah. I follow Frank Stallone on Instagram.
Smith: We’re actually Instagram friends. He liked a comment of mine the other day.
Schenk: No, he did not.
Smith: He did.
Schenk: No kidding, Frank Stallone.
Smith: Frank Stallone.
Schenk: That’s pretty impressive.
Schenk: All right. Well you can catch new episodes of the Nursing Home Abuse Podcast…
Smith: We’ll see.
Schenk: …we’ll see – every other week on Monday mornings.
Smith: Or you can just go ahead and binge watch old ones.
Schenk: Bin watching?
Smith: Binge watching.
Schenk: Binge watch old ones. You have 150 to choose from.
Smith: Yeah, go back and start…
Schenk: What was your favorite one? What’s your favorite one? I guess you’ve got to say your brothers.
Smith: Oh no, I don’t think Clay was my favorite one.
Schenk: You don’t think so?
Smith: No, I’m just kidding. That was a good one.
Schenk: That was a good one.
Smith: What was the one that we say today was still the number one, the best one?
Schenk: I think that was the ombudsman – the first time we talked about ombudsmen.
Smith: I think it was.
Schenk: And you got mad at me – we had to make an edit because I was too silly, because to segue into it from being a Swedish word, I go, “Will, it’s Swedish fish. IKEA?” I did a bunch of things and you finally said, “Stop, we have to do it again.”
Smith: Yeah, because it was over – it’s a serious subject matter and they have a serious job, and Rob doesn’t have a sense of decorum. He doesn’t…
Schenk: But at any rate, I would probably say that’s my favorite episode too. We kind of hit our stride more towards the hundreds of episodes. It took a long time. We started having more and more guests. But I don’t want to say who my favorite guest was because I don’t think it’s fair. I think all the guests were fantastic except for that one lady.
Smith: Yeah, she knows who she is.
Schenk: She definitely knows who she is. Anyways, thank you guys very much for watching. And with that, we’ll see you next time.
Smith: See you next time.