Filthy kitchens pose a grave danger to nursing home residents
In many cases, kitchens in nursing homes are dirtier and more dangerous than many people realize. In fact, improper food handling ranks as a key safety issue in Alabama nursing homes. Unsanitary conditions related to food is the third most cited violation inside nursing homes (behind infection control and accidents), according to an investigation by FairWarning, which was published by NBC News.
Thousands of food violations were discovered over the past three years. They include stomach-churning incidents witnessed in kitchens such as:
- Flies buzzing around hamburgers
- Cockroaches on the floor
- A moldy ice machine
- Mouse droppings across the hood of a stove
While these conditions would pose a threat to a healthy person, they could prove fatal for an elderly person who may have a weakened immune system. Generally speaking, people over 65 are especially vulnerable to becoming sick due to foodborne illness. They may face any number of age-related issues: immobility, chronic diseases or changes in their digestive systems.
Over one-third of nursing homes cited
The FairWarning investigation found that nursing homes have a poor track record of food safety. In 2018, more than one-third of the nursing homes in the United States violated government standards for storing, preparing and serving food in a safe manner. Large nursing home chains had even worse safety records. At Genesis HealthCare, 43 percent of its nursing homes faced food-safety violations, according to the report. The problem may even be worse in assisted living centers, where federal oversight is nonexistent.
Nursing home kitchens in the past have not faced the same scrutiny as restaurant kitchens, but the investigation by FairWarning may prompt positive changes.
How to choose the right nursing home
It’s important to do research before committing to a nursing home. Visit Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare to view nursing home reports. You can plug in the name of a nursing home and view its overall rating under several categories, including health inspections.
If your loved one is living in a nursing home, there are things you can do:
- Eat a meal with your loved one at the facility. Is the food hot? Does it taste fresh? Are the plate and utensils clean?
- Ask to see where the food is prepared. Does the kitchen appear clean?
- Interview administrators. Ask them about their food preparation policies.
What to do if your loved one becomes ill
If your loved one is living in a nursing home and suffered a foodborne illness, contact an experienced attorney at Braswell Murphy LLC, in Mobile, Alabama, for a free consultation. We can help you examine options for your loved one.