The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has announced that it will add 35 investigators and create special teams to speed the state's response to nursing home complaints and incidents.
"While we're doing a good job responding to the most serious complaints and incidents," said Chris Traylor, who became DADS Commissioner on Jan. 1, "I'm concerned about our ability to respond quickly to every complaint and incident. We need to do all we can to ensure the safety of Texans in nursing homes."
DADS is responding to 99 percent of the most serious complaints, known as priority one complaints, within 24 hours. However, the agency responded to only a third of priority two complaints within 14 days as required by state guidelines.
"We're going to take aggressive steps to improve our response times as quickly as possible," Traylor said.
DADS expects to complete 1,550 nursing home investigations during a two-week, statewide blitz later this month. The agency also will begin hiring 35 new investigators in March.
The agency is also implementing specialized complaint investigation teams throughout the state. These teams, made up of nurses, nutritionists, social workers and general investigators, are dedicated solely to conducting investigations of complaints and self-reported incidents.
DADS regulates 1,196 nursing homes throughout the state and investigated 16,200 complaints and incidents involving nursing homes in fiscal year 2009.
(Feb. 12, 2010)