Phil Hall on Westfair Online had a great article on Phyllis Ayman and her new book “Overdue: Quality Care for Our Elder Citizens” which was released Feb. 8 and by its first week in print it rose to the No. 1 spot on Amazon in the nursing home care books category.
“I have been a speech pathologist who has worked in over 40 skilled nursing facilities in the local area over 25 years,” she said. “In working in all of these buildings, I became increasingly disheartened about the quality of care. I left working in them twice because I felt I couldn’t make the kind of changes that I wanted to make. It became emotionally taxing as well as psychologically taxing — it wasn’t just about my speech programs, but what could I do to improve the quality of life and the quality of care.”
Ayman is the principal owner of PMA Speech Solutions. Her first book “Nursing Homes to Rehabilitation Centers: What Every Person Needs to Know” was an overview of an unknown industry. She pointed out that in many cases this industry has made the bottom line its overwhelming operational priority.
“Over the years, there has been the corporatization of the industry, with a lot of large chains buying these facilities, and the quality of care, unfortunately, becomes less than adequate,” she added.
In “Overdue,” Ayman provides a consumer-friendly guide for choosing a nursing home. She provides examples of severely inadequate care that she witnessed during her career, and reinforces the notion that the patient’s family should not be passive in addressing concerns.
“If you’re an informed consumer, you are a more empowered consumer,” she explained. “Health care is a business, but people feel they are at the mercy of whomever is running the nursing home. But, really, you are not. You are buying health care services and they are in the business of selling those services, and they need you because if they don’t have customers they don’t have a business.”
“Be cognizant if you hear ringing bells or people don’t look like they are well cared for or well attended. Also, there is a high percentage of people who go to a short-term unit and, for whatever reason, are transferred to the long-term unit even though it wasn’t the family’s intention.”
“Once every 66 seconds, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in this country,” she said. “Be aware and ask questions of how a memory care unit is designed. Too many times we’ve come to accept that people are sitting aimlessly and looking out a window — we’ve become numb to it. But it doesn’t have to be that. I also talk about other forms of care and how memory care units should provide a continuum of activities. And as a person advances in their condition, the facility needs to provide activities that are suitable for different levels of cognition and still function in a way to their maximum abilities.”
“I contacted several elder care attorneys before the book came out,” she said. “As people are planning financially, they should get an idea of what this landscape is about. Most people don’t know. They don’t want to think about it or they don’t think it’s going to happen.”