PSA: If you have a relative in a nursing home or are considering putting one there, check your state’s health department website for licensing reports. Over the past week, I used four and a half years’ worth of Boone County reports to build a database for a nursing home violations story. Some homes have passed inspection perfectly every year. Others have been cited for everything from not storing and cooking food properly to ignoring sprinkler system maintenance to hiring people with a history of neglect or abuse in caregiving situations. I hope to have the story out by next Wednesday.

Now to some lessons learned in the construction of said database. As taught in my computer-assisted reporting class, I started by planning out all the Excel rows and columns needed to cover information in the reports. I made codes for each citation and level of harm, and then began entering information, which is dull work and can lead to errors if you’re not super vigilant. In the next days, I’ll finish adding information, double- and triple-check my data entry and upload the Excel file into Access to start finding trends. What nursing homes have been cited most often, for example? Which citations come up most often? Then on to more traditional news work such as interviewing Health Department officials about inspections.

Is there anything you’d like to see investigated in Boone County?



  1. Sophie–beyond code violations, there are far too numerous violations of the spirit of care: failure to pay attention to details of personal comfort, failures to inform family of changes, “misplaced” laundry, soiled bedding that can go unreported . . . Nursing homes and other forms of long-term care likely are at or near the top of the reasons that so many people my age favor changing states’ laws to permit one to choose to end one’s life.


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