Many State Nursing Homes Headed in Wrong Direction

Every Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm knows that in many ways the mistreatment of elderly community members not only continues in many areas, but it may be getting worse. There are many causes for the increasing problems but in the end it boils down to seniors have much fewer public advocates than other interest groups and therefore they are often short-changed on resources. All nursing home businesses and public organizations have money concerns. That is nothing new. However, they increasingly feel safe increasing their coffers by making changes that ultimately result in more harm to the senior citizens who rely on their care. Much Illinois nursing home neglect has been caused by these efforts to reduce staff members, cut back on training, and otherwise limit the resources available to seniors in need of close care.

That is the same conclusion reached by the members of the editorial board at the Tennessean who penned an editorial this weekend lambasting all those who are allowing the problem of elder abuse to actually increase as of late. The story explains how more and more seniors living in these assisted and skilled care facilities face problems from dehydration and malnutrition to the development of pressure sores. Much of the problem can be found in inadequate and underpaid staff members who simply cannot logically provide the care that residents need with the resources they are given by nursing home business owners. It is surprising that more attention has not been focused on the increasing problem. That is particularly true because the total number of elderly residents in need of such care is only increasing. Just this year many of the Baby Boomers began retiring for the first time. The next several decades will likely see a steady increase in seniors who face certain health problems and need daily assistance to get by each day.

Editorial board members criticized state lawmakers, explaining that even as the neglect rose and the need increased, the oversight of the hundreds of facilities in the state was actually dramatically decreasing. The minimal oversight has made it easier for abuse and neglect to continue unabated. This is a systematic problem that is rooted at the top of the power chain. The vast majority of nursing home staff members genuinely care about the well-being of those who they are charged to care for. However, there is only so much that they can do when each employee is obligated to care for a growing number of residents-it is often physically impossible for them to provide the level of personal care necessary.

Improvements in nursing home care need to come by putting pressure on the owners and operators to make the changes necessary to limit the problem. However, as the editorial noted, the state is actually taking steps backward on this account as a new law was passed which limits the ability of victimized families from using the legal system to protect their rights. This is on top of changes that removed the requirement that these homes file detailed reports whenever a serious mistake is made the harms patients. State investigations into these events were also removed. In short, more and more legislative changes have only made it easier for the state to provide inadequate care without recourse. Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer in our office understands this problem all too well. We urge advocates across the country to work with their local representatives to reverse these problematic trends and provide a voice for the often voiceless vulnerable seniors.

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