Thirty years ago, when a senior needed extra medical care beyond that which he or she could do themselves, they virtually had no other choice but to move into a nursing home. Today things are much different. The Rockford Register Star recently discussed the change and the effect it has had on nursing home businesses in the Chicago area. Assisted living facilities, home care groups, and retirement centers now abound, allowing seniors increasing freedom to choose the type of aide that best matches their needs. The trend is considered a positive development by all who care about allowing seniors the chance to preserve their freedom and live happy, fulfilling, independent lives.
However, the expanded options have made it tougher for traditional nursing homes to fill beds in their facilities. Nursing home officials make money based on the payments paid for the care of each resident. The more residents at the facility, the more money the home receives. However, with more seniors taking advantage of options besides traditional nursing homes, the competition to fill the beds is tightening. As a result, many areas near Chicago are “overbedded”-meaning that there are more available places in nursing homes than there are individuals in need of nursing home care.
In fact, many nursing home officials are attempting to avoid further competition by stopping the creation of new long-term care facilities. For example, in the Rockford area, nursing home administrators are hoping that state officials stop the creation of two new special facilities-Pecatonica Pavilion and Warrior’s Gateway. The two new locations would cater to different populations, with Warrior’s Gateway specifically targeting those with traumatic brain injuries and multiple traumas. However, regardless of their clients, nursing home administrators believe that the new organizations would simply be more competition, making it harder for them to fill available beds in their nursing homes.
The declining occupancy rates have ultimately led to tighter budgets at many facilities. The budget challenges can pose a real problem for patient care.
Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well aware of the potential for neglect at nursing facilities when the business-side of the enterprise completely overwhelms the quality of care. With vulnerable elderly residents involved, the quality of care given at these facilities should never be sacrificed in an attempt to save cash. But when money becomes especially scare at these facilities, nursing home officials often panic and resort to arcane budget reduction measures.
For example, nursing staff and nursing assistants are often reduced in order to save on employment costs. But the reductions can go too far, because Illinois nursing home law requires that each resident be given a certain minimum amount of nursing care each day. Our attorneys continue to watch local facilities to ensure that these and similar requirements are met. Please contact our office if you suspect that the care at a local nursing home is being sacrificed.