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U.S. Nursing Homes Must Do More to Recruit, Train, and Retain CNAs

Understaffed nursing home teams have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, especially certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who consist as much as 40% of a nursing home’s workforce. These employees support the daily needs of residents and long-term care patients, such as dressing, bathing, food preparation and eating, rehabilitation, hygiene, keeping communication with family members, socialization, and ambulating.

When CNAs do not have support or are treated poorly, it ultimately puts nursing home residents in harm’s way. Among many other oversights, call lights will be missed, hygiene becomes unhealthy among residents, patient morale, safety, and mental health reach low levels, medication routines lapse or become too familiar, and rotating residents at risk for bed sores are quickly forgotten.

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Preventable Fall Injury Highlighted in Survey at Illinois Veterans Home

In Quincy, the Illinois Veterans Home recently reported a resident fall incident on March 15, 2021, to the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH). According to a follow-up survey led by the state on March 27, 2021, a resident (R1) was injured from a fall after the facility failed to keep his environment safe and a walkway free of clutter. The resident told surveyors he had tripped on a cord and hit his head after falling to the floor. The man was transferred via ambulance to a local hospital to treat a forehead laceration that required seven sutures and a brain injury diagnostic scan. The man was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation.

IDPH’s fall incident investigation documented this pattern of events:

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3 Illinois Nursing Homes Are Stuck on Government List for Ongoing Poor Quality Ratings and Care Citations

A recent effort sponsored by Pennsylvania senators Pat Toomey and his counterpart Bob Casey shows that the nation’s most troubled nursing homes require expanded support, specific to expanding the Special Focus Facility program and the list provided by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and state inspectors which publicly review ongoing nursing home care and identify quality issues.

According to CMS officials, the “Special Focus Facility” (SFF) program was created to identify nursing homes that are not meeting health care or fire safety standards and are continuously cited for deficiencies.

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April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month: How to Report Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes

Any touching, fondling, or form of sexual activity when the person cannot understand, is unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced is considered sexual abuse. And according to the Administration for Community Living, on average, there are over 1,000 complaints of sexual abuse in nursing homes each year. However, that average does not include sexual abuse by other residents — which means the actual rate of sexual abuse in nursing homes is likely to be even higher. Also, state and federal surveyors who lead inspections count physical, financial, and sexual allegations in one category, so it may be challenging to know the actual abuse risk when investigating a nursing home using public records.

The following people commonly commit sexual abuse in nursing homes:

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The Nation’s Largest Senior Living Operator Sued for Wrongfully Discharging Patients

California’s attorney general, Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, and local officials are suing ten of Brookdale Senior Living Inc.’s California-based skilled nursing facilities. The suit alleges that the nation’s largest senior living home operator had misled consumers on quality ratings and broke laws intended to protect patients when they are discharged from a facility if their Medicare coverage ended. The company is also said to have failed in giving the 30-day notice of transfers or discharges as required for all U.S. skilled nursing facilities.

“Brookdale does this so it can fill its beds with residents who will bring in more money,” the lawsuit files read. It says the company will discharge patients “regardless of the care and treatment needs,” and that the company also failed to prepare patients to be released or transferred adequately, gave false information to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid that it uses to award quality ratings, and over-reported its nursing staffing hours to the feds.

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Medical Malpractice Briefing Includes Facts on U.S. Nursing Home Industry’s Failed Response To COVID

The 2021 update to the briefing book Medical Malpractice: By The Numbers, published by the Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) at New York Law School, has been released and includes the latest statistics and research on issues related to medical malpractice, including long-term care wrongdoing. The 141-page volume includes over 400 linked footnotes and sources. It also discusses how laws could make it harder for patients and their families to place accountability on health care providers and nursing home owners in the case of medical negligence.

Medical Malpractice as it Relates to Long Term Care Providers

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Justice in Aging: How The American Rescue Plan Helps Older Adults

More than 45% of Americans over 65 have trouble meeting their basic needs. As a new administration works to provide COVID-19 relief to older adults, many of who are reliant on Medicaid funding for their health care, including long-term care, a fifth COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319), was signed into law totaling $1.9 trillion on Mar. 11, 2021.

The law is expected to significantly improve health care access and increase economic security for older adults due to the pandemic. Medicaid is the funder for most long-term care in the United States, whether at home or in an institution. An analysis provided by Justice in Aging, an organization committed to fighting senior poverty through the law, outlines the significant provisions impacting older adults, including Illinois nursing home residents and long-term care patients.

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New Federal Guidelines Expand Visitation Options in Some Illinois Nursing Homes, Families Should Lookout for Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Although the risk of COVID-19 transmission within nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been high, related outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes are down, according to a report by The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. And with many facilities now operating with residents fully vaccinated, in-person nursing home visits are being allowed at some senior living facilities in Illinois.

According to the updated guidance released on March 10, 2021, from CMS, facilities can now allow responsible indoor visitation for all residents unless specific scenarios arise that would limit visitation options, such as an increase in community infections. The updated CDC’ visitation guidance recommends long-term care facilities follow these specific guidelines:

understaffing in nursing homes

New Study Highlights Ongoing Issues with High Staff Turnover as Major Contributor to COVID Nursing Home Deaths

As almost all U.S. nursing homes are working to vaccinate residents and staff, ongoing issues impacting the care residents require are proving to be the cause behind some of the most horrendous coronavirus neglect cases and disastrous infectious disease outbreaks in history. Authors of a new study published in Health Affairs on Mar. 1 highlight the persistent problems caused by an unstable long-term care workforce as one of the significant underlying threats that contributed to the staggering death tolls of nursing home residents start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 172,000 deaths from the virus had been reported among either residents or employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities by late February. In Illinois, the number of nursing home deaths as of Mar. 5 was 9,894.

As one of the nation’s leading nursing home abuse and neglect law firms, our attorneys found the study’s comprehensive findings were both devastating, but unfortunately, not shocking.

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Legislators Send Nursing Home Reform Package to New York Governor in Response to Disastrous COVID-19 Care

New York state, once ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic and where long-term care tragedies have left many in shock, may soon become the new epicenter for nursing home care reform. State lawmakers began passing several measures on Feb. 22, as scandals break and the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt residents, their families, and underpaid and overworked care teams. And on Wednesday, Mar. 3, the New York Assembly passed another series of nursing home-related bills to increase the transparency of facility violations, require quality assurance, and study long-term care facilities in the state. The lawmakers have said the sweeping reforms were designed to “increase safety and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers living in nursing homes.”

These are the highlights focused on New York’s four overall nursing home quality and coronavirus care-related issues addressed in the reform package. A detailed statement regarding the legislation was released by New York’s Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) on Mar. 4 and can be reviewed in more detail here.

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