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Staffing Levels and Nursing Home Abuse

Each Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm has worked on many cases where understaffing played the pivotal role in the underlying mistreatment. It cannot be emphasized enough that if there are not sufficient care workers at a facility then nursing home residents will not receive the level of care that the law demands. This is true no matter how skilled, devoted, and passionate the care providers are-they cannot be in two places at once. Unfortunately, in a drive to lower expenses and increases profits for owners and investors, those in charge of making decisions about staffing levels often cut direct care employee levels to the bone. When this happens it is the residents who suffer most.

Earlier this month a story at U.S. News discussed the crucial role that staffing levels play at these facilities. The article was summarizing a new research project from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The underlying point of the research was something that our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers know well-loss of staff members at nursing homes is deadly. In particular the researchers found that lower employment rates at nursing homes correlates strongly with rising death rates for senior women. This was attributed to the fact that nursing homes are disproportionately filled with elder women because women outlive men on average.

These are particularly timely issues because more and more Americans are retiring, the overall demographics are shifting, and long-term care will undoubtedly rise in prominence in the future. Getting a handle on these problems as soon as possible is crucial, because the challenges are only going to increase. The fastest growing age group in the country is people over 80 years of age. This is a product of both the overall national demographics as well as increases in medical care which are keeping more people alive longer.

While better medical care is obviously a welcome development, it comes with a stark challenge. Will we have enough younger care providers for these seniors? A mathematical certainty of a larger percentage of seniors is a smaller percentage of younger Americans. But with more seniors, there will be an increased need for more young Americans to work in caregiving roles. If those caregiving roles are not filled it is a near certainty that there will be an increase in nursing home neglect with seniors not getting the care they need. Lives will be lost as a result.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers appreciate that part of the problem is that these front-line nursing home workers often have pay rates and benefits cut severely. This is usually not because owners and operators are facing some financial crisis. Instead it is often done simply to ensure maximum profits for those who are using these facilities as financial investments. The poor pay rates make it difficult for these facilities to find quality help and retain that help for longer periods of times. This leads to frequent shortages and high turnover. Nursing home owners are still able to collect large profits in these situations, but the seniors who rely on them are the ones who suffer from the poor staffing situation.

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