A larger number of the American population will require nursing home care since baby boomers are becoming senior citizens. Over the years, it has become increasing clear that nursing homes are not fully equipped to handle the volume of people that are expected to become residents of their facilities. This is an issue that is fraught with potential problems.
It’s estimated that approximately 30 percent of nursing homes across the United States have been cited for some type of elder abuse. This is a widespread issue that has been outlined in a study conducted by the American Association of Justice (AAJ). This study found that about 90 percent of American nursing homes are short staffed. The recommendation is that every nursing home provide each resident with approximately 4.5 hours of direct nursing care on a daily basis. The AAJ report found the actual number to be as low as 3.7 hours per day.
There are a variety of reasons why the level of staffing at nursing homes is not up to par. One of the primary reasons has to do with low pay, which results in nursing homes hiring staff that are incapable of performing the required tasks due to lack of training and skill. There’s also the issue of staff being overworked as a result of having a limited staff. Many facilities find it difficult to both attract and retain quality staff. Despite being short staffed, the AAJ report revealed that nursing home assistants have experienced a drastic cut in working hours.
The primary reason why hours are cut is because nursing home administrators are attempting to reduce costs and increase profits. Since there are more than 1.4 million people living in nursing homes, many see the industry as an opportunity to profit. According to the AAJ report, billions of dollars are paid every year by residents of nursing homes and that number is steadily rising.
An interesting fact that was uncovered by the AAJ report is that managers of nursing home facilities earn high salaries that are rising, while hourly workers continue to receive fewer hours, which results in lower pay. It was uncovered that a New York nursing home executive paid herself $1.2 million a year for a facility with 314 beds. There have been similar salaries uncovered in other locations along with accounting transactions totaling several billion dollars that were found to be suspicious.
There have also been reports of greater deficiencies in nursing homes that are for profit. In fact, the numbers are much higher than deficiencies found in non-profit nursing homes. The AAJ report found that there was about one-third more deficiencies in for profit nursing homes. Despite the fact that thousands of nursing home patients are neglected and exploited, only a small fraction of those incidents are ever reported. It’s estimated that a mere one in fourteen cases of elder abuse are reported.
Unfortunately, elder abuse occurs in many different ways, which is why it’s important for family members to understand the signs of abuse. Some of the more common forms of abuse include battery, forcible restraint and assault. There are also incidents of rape in nursing homes. Another way in which residents of nursing homes are neglected is by withholding medication or food, as well as not changing their clothing or bedding. This type of neglect can result in health issues, such as bed sores, infections and more severe conditions that can become fatal.
Some of the signs of elder abuse are poor hygiene, weight loss, the smell of urine, burns, torn clothing or bruises. Another sign of abuse is when the resident appears depressed or withdrawn. There are many instances when nursing home residents are threatened and afraid to say anything about the abuse that’s taking place. You should respond immediately to any complaints by your loved one of being cared for improperly.
It’s important to notify the management team at the nursing home right away if you suspect abuse. This is a situation that should be handled expeditiously. It’s also important to make sure you communicate with your loved one throughout the timeframe in which you are investigating the matter. If you find that there has in fact been abuse, the next course of action is to hire an attorney that has expertise in nursing home abuse.
The team at Zayed Law Offices is keenly aware of the law as it relates to nursing home abuse. We understand the emotional toll that this kind of situation can take on a family and we’re here to provide you with the guidance and support you need. Contact Zayed Law Offices if you believe your loved one has been subjected to any form of abuse or has been neglected in any way during their stay in a nursing facility.