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How can I gauge quality of staff at an Illinois nursing home?

As much as we would like to think that neglect and abuse doesn't occur in any of the long-term care facilities in Illinois, it does. In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to wait until after the violence has happened to hold those responsible to account. Unfortunately, that's too often the way things play out, guided by experienced legal counsel.

Finding the best care facility for your loved one shouldn't be difficult, but it can be. There are sources of information anyone can turn to in order to get a handle on such issues. However, the volume of information available and the number of channels through which it can be obtained can actually make the task very hard for first-time users.

Very often, as one consumer advocacy group notes, the nature of information available is pretty high level. It might consist of a general quality rating issued by an accrediting agency. Alternatively, there may be a government-funded ombudsman you can contact. This person's specific role is to educate consumers about proper care standards, issues and residents' rights; and investigate and advocate for residents.

But there is also a way to get more granular, right down to the level of the certified nurse's aide who is tasked with helping residents with everyday things such as dressing, eating, bathing and going to the bathroom. In Illinois it's called the Health Care Worker Registry administered by the Department of Public Health.

State law makes it illegal for a health care company to hire anyone who has been convicted of one of several disqualifying crimes. Nor are they supposed to be on staff if they are the subject of an administrative finding of neglect, abuse or theft.

What the registry does is provide a means by which someone with Internet access can look up a health care worker by name to see if they have any record of violations. There may be individuals who have been granted waivers of past violations, but that is supposed to be listed on the registry, as well.

Due diligence is important, but it can only be as good as the experience of the person doing the work.

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