How Families Can Protect Elderly Loved Ones by Paying Close Attention to Nursing Home Staffing
Nursing home abuse is particularly repugnant because it frequently involves mistreating seniors who suffer from age-related impairment of cognitive abilities that compromise their ability to defend themselves or to alert others of the misconduct. The most common cause of elder abuse in nursing homes is understaffing, which results in less supervision and higher levels of frustration and anger among existing staff. Whether nursing home abuse occurs because of negligence and inadvertence or represents the result of intentional misconduct, it can have devastating consequences for senior residents.
The extent to which nursing home abuse and neglect is a result of inadequate investment of resources in staffing is readily apparent when one considers a few nursing home industry statistics provided by the National Center for Elder Abuse:
• Ninety percent of nursing homes have staffing levels that are not sufficient to provide minimum adequate care.
• More than 20,000 cases of chronic neglect, abuse and exploitation of seniors in nursing homes are reported annually.
• A mere seven percent of cases of elder abuse are ever reported.
• 44 percent of nursing home victims have been the victim of some type of abuse.
• Forty percent of nursing home staff members admit to having committed an act of abuse during the prior year.
• More than 80 percent of staff members in nursing homes report having witnessed physical, verbal or other types of abuse during the previous 12 month period.
Nursing homes often run on limited budgets and focus on increased profits over patient care. Many corporate for profit nursing homes keep costs down by focusing on hiring less qualified staff, providing less training and understaffing their facility. Studies show that staffing levels have a direct correlation to the quality of care received in senior residential care facilities, including increased likelihood of discharge, fewer bed sores, better mortality rates, less urinary infections and more favorable patient outcomes. By contrast, understaffing has been shown to correlate with dehydration, inadequate feeding or nutrition and pressure ulcers.
Because elderly loved ones may be unable to effectively warn family members of neglect or abuse, it is important to monitor your loved one's physical and emotional condition. If you notice abrupt changes, you should arrange for your loved one to speak to you privately. Families also may want to take note of the number of staff members and their responsiveness to resident needs during visits with loved ones.
If your elderly loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, your loved one may be entitled to compensation for emotional, physical, financial abuse or chronic neglect. Our Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys at Montlick and Associates represent victims of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.