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Another Study Connects Staffing Issues to Nursing Home Neglect Deaths

Sometimes it may seem like kicking a dead horse when our Chicago nursing home lawyers discuss the effect of low staffing on resident care. However, considering that so many facilities continue to be understaffed-in fact, most are-it remains important to continue the awareness about the consequences of not having enough staff members. All nursing home neglect attorneys can explain how failure to do so literally results in people dying who otherwise might still be alive.

Yet another study has reiterated the vital role played by having reasonable levels of front-line care workers at nursing homes. A story this week from Medicare Advocacy summarizes the findings. We have previously mentioned the underlying results of the study.

The research effort was conducted by experts at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The analysis essentially sought to answer a question that had puzzled researchers in the past. When employment rates for the nation as a whole increase, why do mortality rates among seniors also increase? On its face it doesn’t necessarily make much sense. Clearly higher employment in the country doesn’t directly cause the deaths. However, there must be some other variable involved that correctly explains what is going on.

The researchers believe that they’ve reached an answer. They noted that “an expanding economy generates a greater scarcity of front-line caregivers in nursing homes, which may cause more death among the elderly.”

In other words, the elderly death rate increased may be attributable specifically to those in nursing homes. Because care workers at these facilities often do not receive very high wages or benefits, many of those workers leave those jobs when the economy is doing well and better opportunities are available. This analysis seems to match with demographic data which shows increased deaths among elderly woman when unemployment rates decline. Women make up a far larger percentage of nursing home residents, and so they are more serious affected by these issues.

Amazingly, the researchers were able to reach pretty specific conclusions about how unemployment rates affect front-line care worker stats and then nursing home resident’s health. Specifically they identified that for every 1% decline in unemployment rates there was a .4% increase in the mortality rate for older women.

Past research had identified how the overall employment rates effected employment of front-line care workers. These are the individuals who are actually working with residents day to day, providing them with all of their daily needs and in general keeping them safe. These front-line care workers are usually the ones who know each resident best, understanding their idiosyncrasies, risks, and unique needs. But these vital caregivers are not paid well, and they often leave for better jobs when the economy improves.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers know that when those workers leave it is the residents who suffer. This is true because the leaving workers are often not replaced or at least not replaced quickly. That means there are fewer eyes, ears, and hands providing a look-out to ensure all of the residents have the basic assistance they need. In addition, even when new employees are hired, there is often a learning curve with further negative implications for residents.

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