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Articles Tagged with understaffing

southern illinois nursing homes covid-19

Nursing Home Outbreak at Stearns Facility Points to Sick Care Workers

An Illinois nursing home in Madison County is under investigation related to a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 12 people and infected more than 100. Stearns Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is located at 2900 Stearns Avenue in Granite City. The 109-bed home operates as a lower quality, One-Star Medicare Certified, Medicaid Approved skilled nursing center.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, an investigation led by the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) revealed that the nursing home allowed employees to continue working despite testing positive for COVID-19. A facility director cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that address mitigating staff shortages to justify the shortcoming.

understaffing and falls at nursing homes
Like many U.S. nursing homes, elder care facilities in Illinois seem continuously challenged by an inadequate amount of care workers. Even though the state requires 2.5 hours of direct care for residents each day, about a quarter of the residents in Chicago-area homes are living in understaffed conditions putting them at risk for abuse and neglect.

While some long-term care facilities have been routinely understaffed for years, others continue to manage facilities with very little interest in providing attentive and quality resident care even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. As a result, fall-related injuries among residents are on the rise.

Hazards that contribute to nursing home resident fall injuries have included:

nursing home staff ignoring dementia symptoms

Identifying Dementia Warning Signs in Nursing Home Residents

Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous. And unfortunately, many nursing home owners find it easier to have staff ignore the warning signs of declining cognitive abilities rather than provide additional support. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when overworked, and poorly resourced care teams are not trained to evaluate struggling residents who require extra supervision and management of their daily activities, medications, and financial needs. Eventually, these residents need to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized environment to keep them safe, especially as their disease progresses into later stages. Family members and friends are typically the first to request help after noticing a loved one’s behavioral changes or one or more of the concerning events listed below.

#1. Early Stage Memory Loss

nursing home understaffing dire

The Chronic Problems Related to Understaffed Nursing Homes

Deliberate understaffing is a common practice in nursing homes across the U.S., and especially here in Illinois, where nearly 70% of all long-term care networks are for-profit owned. When facilities are privately owned and operated, owners become more concerned about profits than having the right amount of staff available to provide quality patient care. According to a 2018-2019 report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, an incredible 90% of U.S. facilities are understaffed. The findings were documented by evidence through payroll records that showed nursing homes were underreporting staffing challenges.

Worker shortages contribute to nursing home struggles that sometimes lead to preventable hospitalizations, injuries, or deaths. Risky cost-cutting measures and unethical practices are creating a ripple of adverse effects that nursing home residents ultimately pay for.

inspection for nursing homes

How To Read a Nursing Home Inspection Survey To Identify Abuse or Neglect

All nursing home providers participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) program must meet Federal reporting requirements as well as state laws as they relate to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Homes must also remain in substantial compliance to remain in operation and be evaluated for care standards through annual surveys and inspections. It is expected that any recorded violation will then be addressed promptly and residents will no longer be at risk from those noted deficiencies.

Families can review a website published by CMS called Nursing Home Compare. Here, they can access quality of care information for every nursing home that participates in Medicare and Medicaid in Illinois. Nursing Home Compare provides an overall star rating based on three factors: health inspections, staffing levels, and quality measures, but also includes the results of recent health inspections.

calling 911 on covid-19

Nursing Home Staff and Residents With COVID-19 Are Dialing 911 For Help

Reports from WGLT NPR show a COVID-19 outbreak at Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center had staff and nursing home residents calling 911 on numerous occasions, requesting for urgent help and resident transfers. The home is located at 925 S. Main St. in Bloomington. Illinois Department of Health coronavirus tracking reports show the facility is home to McLean County’s most significant COVID-19 outbreak to date. And the irony? Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center struggled to provide quality care and adequate staffing even before the virus hit, according to recent government inspections.

Medicare surveyor reports on the Nursing Home Compare website and IDPH inspection records show:

nursing home negligence bed sores

A Common Sign of Nursing Home Neglect Is Bedsores

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nursing home neglect is the failure to provide care for an older adult. One of the earliest and common signs of nursing home neglect is bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers.

  • Bedsores are painful wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin.

covid-19 nursing homes understaffed

As of Friday, May 1, nursing home workers at 64 Illinois facilities have said they will strike on May 8 due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), safety training, testing, emergency benefits, hazard pay, and paid time off for coronavirus-related illnesses. The workers are represented by SEIU Healthcare, a growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest.

According to the most recent news release by SEIU, “Family members, faith leaders and community supporters will call upon nursing home owners to promptly settle a fair contract with the provisions needed to safeguard both workers and residents—including above-poverty base wages, hazard pay during the current crisis, appropriate and adequate levels of PPE, plus the increased staffing levels to support quality resident care.”

Many of the workers have also been reported to say that facility owners and operators have “refused to increase staffing levels or protect workers’ healthcare coverage and haven’t been transparent about COVID-19 cases within their facilities.”

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

During these difficult times it is important for patients and their families to understand that residents in nursing homes still have the right to expect proper care.

Direct communication with facility staff, including the director of nursing and administration is key.  Find out what the staff is doing to prevent and control COVID-19.  Here are some things staff should be doing:

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care Invites You to Share #LoveFromADistance

With new directives placing strict limits on visitors to nursing homes and many assisted living facilities taking similar precautions, friends and families of residents living in long-term care facilities are using creative ways to stay in touch with their loved ones.

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