Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys know that one of the crucial components of proper support at long-term care facilities involves front-line, direct care workers–the individuals who actually help residents with their day-to-day tasks. When nursing home neglect occurs it is frequently rooted in mistakes related to care provided by these workers. This is not necessarily because the workers are intentionally abusive or even careless. Instead, the problem is often simply a lack of total direct care workers. Short staffing problems are all-too-common, meaning that residents wallow without basic or timely aid. In these situations basic problems can go unnoticed and allowed to grow into complications.
Interestingly, in many ways residents and these care workers sometimes fight the same battles against owners and operators of these facilities. Most staff members are committed to helping residents to the best of their ability. Yet they are thwarted in their mission, because there are too many residents and not enough staff members. Many staff members are also not given sufficient training or access to the tools they need to provide reasonable care. All of these limitations are spurred by the company’s goal of maximizing their own profit, regardless of who is hurt as a result. This, of course, is on top of the fact that direct-line care workers are usually the worst compensated members of the entire staff.
Nursing Home Employee Strike
The confrontational relationship between important care workers and facility management was on display in a new article from the New York Times on a strike by employees of a nursing home chain. Over 600 workers at five different nursing homes walked off in early July. The spur for the strike were changes by the company which eliminated at least six sick days and a week of vacation for these workers. The company also froze pensions and required many employees to pay more than $6,000 a year more for health coverage.
Sadly, the story notes that the strikes have “thrown the facilities into disarray, creating much worse service for the residents.” This is not a surprise considering that stability in care workers has long-been associated with better outcomes for residents.
Of course, economic realities are always a factor in management of these facilities, but the bottom line has to be reasonableness. Owners and operators cannot be allowed to stand behind claims of economic changes to justify any and all cuts to direct workers, particularly since those changes are likely to affect the quality of care to residents.
This particular strike has already spilled into the courts. Last week the labor board issued a complaint against the nursing home company for bargaining in bad faith and illegally imposing benefit cuts of the workers.
Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys stand arm-in-arm with all those committed to ensuring reasonable care for seniors at long-term care facilities. Many factors are involved in that care, but time and again distortions caused by the profit-motive are at the root of the mistreatment. This cannot be tolerated. Fortunately, the civil law provides an avenue for accountability and redress, often spurring widespread changes at these facilities.
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