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.
Retaliatory Firing Claim
For example the Madison-St. Clair Record recently reported on a new claim by a former nursing home employee in Illinois who claims that she was fired about reporting concerns about neglect at the skilled nursing facility. The complaint that the former employee filed in the case notes that, on the very day that she filed a neglect complaint with the Illinois Department of Health, she was fired by the facility.
Of course, it is important to get a full understanding of all of the issues in this particular case before making any judgments about the merit of the employment claim. Those details will undoubtedly be brought to light as this particular case unfolds.
However, the situation is a reminder of the complex issues involved in many nursing home neglect cases. Rarely is it as simple as one employee intentionally abusing a resident. Instead, quality of care problems can typically be traced back to facility owners and operators misplaced priorities. Too often the most well-intentioned caregivers are simply incapable of providing the level of care to each resident that they want because of chronic under staffing problems. While this is not acceptable, it is unfair to always pin the problem on direct line care workers. More often than not, the misconduct can be traced to those making profits at the facilities deciding to keep their profit levels high in exchange for decreased quality of life for residents.
If you know of any residents in the Chicago-area or other parts of Illinois who might be affected by this sort of dynamic, please get in touch with the attorneys at our firm to see who we can help.
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