Articles Posted in Nursing Home Staff News

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As part of a Policy Series, the Consumer Voice–one of the nation’s leading senior care advocacy groups–recently created a brief on an important piece of federal legislation. If passed, the new measure, known as Senate Bill S. 3604, would be a helpful step forwars in ensuring proper care is provided to one particularly vulnerable group of nursing home residents–those with cognitive conditions like dementia.

Senate Bill S. 3604

The bill is referred to as the Improving Dementia Care for Older Americans Act. The focus of the measure is simple: eliminate the chemical abuse of residents with antipsychotic medication drugs. As elder care attorneys and other advocates have consistently shown, many long-term care facilities continue to have a hair-trigger response when it comes to prescribing these powerful medications to control seniors, particularly those with dementia. Not only is this over-use severely detrimental to these resident’s quality of life, but it is downright dangerous. Prescription drug experts have explained vociferously that use of these drugs on dementia residents poses serious risks, including death.

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In Ruppelt v. Laurel Healthcare, the Court of Appeals of the State of New Mexico determined that the use of an arbitration agreement that a nursing home required patients to sign as a condition of admission was unconscionable under New Mexico law. The attorneys at our firm have long discussed the need for those affected by these agreements to fight hard in court to protect community rights.

The Case

The lawsuit in this case was filed by Celeste Ruppelt against Laurel Healthcare for the wrongful death of Theodore Lendeen, Ms. Ruppelt’s father. The lawsuit arose from the care provided to Ms. Ruppelt’s father while he was a paient of Laurel Healthcare.

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McKnight’s Long-Term Care News discussed a pilot program that seeks to improve the care provided by struggling nursing homes in four states-including Illinois.

The program is being conducted by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging after a grant provided by the Commonwealth Fund. The program will be operated under the sponsorship of AEANH-Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes.

The new effort will seek to increase the quality of care given to vulnerable nursing home residents at targeted facilities. Specifically to qualify for the program a home must be in an urban area and have a high minority population on Medicaid with serious health complications. Facilities that have been cited by regulatory agencies for quality and care breaches are the focus of the effort. Homes in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Georgia are involved.

The program will attempt to increase repeated assignments for employees at these troubled facilities in an effort to reduce employee turnover. Organizers are hoping that consistent staff assignments will raise the level of care overall and improve resident satisfaction.
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It has been well documented that nursing home staffing ratios and quality of care go hand in hand. According to a recent article from My Elder Advocate, sufficient nursing home staff are needed to ensure that residents have proper nutrition, disease management and that they are turned and repositioned frequently to prevent pressure sores. A 1996 study from the Institute of Medicine found that staffing ratios have a great effect on the nutrition of nursing home residents. Understaffed nursing homes are more likely to have patients who suffer from dehydration, malnutrition and associated conditions.

It is time that nursing home legislation reflect the need for greater staffing. Since the over 65 population will increase by 60% between 2004 and 2030, this is the time to enact such legislation. Nursing home legislation should require ratios to patients in order to ensure that there is sufficient staff to care for our aging population. Unfortunately, nursing home legislation to require ratios has not passed nationally. This is because people argue that this would increase the cost of running a nursing home. Yet, how can you put a price on patient care?

Studies show that raising staffing ratios can cut down on operating costs. It has also been found that understaffing in nursing homes does not help the nursing shortage. Many nurses refuse to work in nursing homes because of the poor working conditions prevalent in understaffed homes. Many nurses have changed professions or gone to part-time due to the poor working conditions. Therefore, new nursing home legislation must be enacted to ensure that there is proper care in all nursing homes, regardless of their monetary position. To read more on nursing home staffing, follow the link.

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Illinois and federal authorities have stopped funding to the Fox River Pavilion nursing home in Aurora Illinois. This occurred after a series of violent incidents that included the wrongful death of one resident in a fight. State investigators believe that a lack of staffing contributed to the resident-on-resident attacks at the 98-resident nursing home in Aurora. They found that the staff failed to properly monitor and treat aggressive mentally ill felons housed there. The problem of inadequate staffing has become widespread in Illinois. Illinois has the highest ratio of mentally ill patients housed with the elderly. Many of these psychiatric patients have felony records.

A Chicago Tribune investigation has revealed that the nursing homes with the most felons also have the fewest nursing home staff employees. Fox River Pavilion housed 26 felons and had a ratio of nursing home staff to patients “well below average” than desired. During the wrongful death residents said that no staff were present to control the incident. This termination marks the second time in one month that Medicare and Medicaid Services has cut off funding of an Illinois nursing home. The state has also moved to decertify the Somerset Place nursing home in Chicago.

The Chicago injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti believe that nursing home staffing levels are one of the most important issues that plague modern day facilities. In order to combat nursing home negligence there needs to be a number of well-trained staff members that are employed 24-hours a day. If you believe that a loved one has been injured in a nursing home due to insufficient staffing numbers, please consult an Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer. To read more about this Illinois nursing home, losing funding, follow the link.

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Investigators are looking into charges of elderly abuse at a collection of group homes. They have arrested the director of one of the homes after discovering he was on probation for elder abuse and had been ordered to stay away from such facilities. He was convicted last year of causing great bodily harm to an elderly or dependent person and served three months in jail. He is also the target of a nursing home negligence lawsuit filed by the family of a man who drowned in a pool while living in one of his group homes. The man was taken into custody for violating conditions of his probation after initially refusing entry to investigators checking on conditions of the house. The man is also the son of another director who was arrested on 16 charges of elder abuse after police raided the unlicensed board and care facility. This case highlights the importance of doing a thorough examination before placing a loved one in a nursing home. Some nursing homes are ill equipped to deal with the pressures of a nursing home which often times leads to nursing home abuse and negligence. To read more about the nursing home director, please click the link.

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Two nursing homes were hit with big fines for having an unauthorized employee. Federal prosecutors say that the nursing home both hired a nurse who had been previously banned from working in facilities that receive federal health care funds, like Medicare. Such bans often result from fraud convictions, although specific details could not be given. The two homes paid $215,000 in fines after the nursing home negligence. Nursing homes must have stringent hiring processes in order to avoid nursing home abuse at the hands of an unqualified employee. If you believe that your nursing home has hired unauthorized workers, please contact the Illinois Department of Health and consult an Illinois lawyer. To read more about the nursing home negligence, please click the link.

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While state’s Health Department’s are requiring that health care workers be vaccinated for the flu, they are not requiring the same regulation for employees of nursing homes. One particular state’s law requires that nursing home employees get flu shots but allows workers to refuse the vaccine after being informed of the heath risks. The refusal loophole will put thousands of frail, elderly residents at risk every year. They are more likely to die or be hospitalized from seasonal flu than most other groups. With swine flu sweeping the nation, elderly residents are more likely to contract the flu. While it is more serious in younger people and pregnant women, the elderly are still at risk. All states, including Illinois, should require that nursing home employees receive the swine flu vaccine to avoid nursing home negligence. Also, all visitors should require hand sanitizer before entering an Illinois nursing home. To read more about mandatory swine flu testing, please click the link.

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The Direct Care Workers (DCWs) are integral to addressing the many elderly family members that live in both nursing homes and need personal care takers. The DCW is also a liaison to the nursing home staff, reporting the care-receiver’s medical and emotional status. The DCW is responsible for the actions of many of the elderly residents. They affect: when and whether the resident gets out of bed; how long the resident has to lie in wet pants; whether the resident’s teeth are brushed; if the nurse is notified of bed sores; whether the resident is malnourished and whether the resident has taken to any morning activities. These are vital activities to both a resident’s day and their stay at a nursing facility. Therefore the DCW is responsible for ensuring that nursing home abuse and negligence does not occur. One way to ensure this is through individualized care plans. Also supervisor training and dementia training can decrease elderly abuse. To read more about the DCW importance, please click the link.

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Despite an economic recession and slower compensation gains for nurses, it appears that nursing home administrators’ salaries rose this year to the highest rate in four years. Nursing home administrator salaries have jumped by an average of 4.8%, according to a report by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service. Many nursing home administrators earn over $80,000, with the average salary rising from $85,464 to $89,606. To read more about the nursing home administrator salary increase, please click the link.