Virtually all those who work closely on elder care issues agree that “front line” care workers are the most important individuals affecting the quality of care that residents receive in long-term care facilities. These are the dedicated employees who work day in and day out directly with seniors. They do the actual work–helping to groom, dress, feed, and transport seniors. They also provide the activities, social interaction, and basic medical care that the residents need. Lawyers, advocates, and others universally agree that a large, trained, dedicated cadre of direct line care workers is one of the best ways to ensure seniors receive the care they are entitled at these facilities.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, it often is not the case. And it is usually not because the care workers are not dedicated, hard-working individuals. Instead, the problems are usually rooted in nursing home owners and operators trying to maximize profits by cutting staffing levels, compensation, and resources to those care workers. In many ways, when large-scale disputes at these facilities arise, the residents and direct-line care workers are on the same side–fighting for a better balance between resources committed to ensuring quality care and profits for the facility.
This antagonistic relationship between front line nursing home care workers and management sometimes boils into employment law litigation. This is particularly true when care workers stick up for residents and are punished as a result.