Nursing homes continue to court controversy despite increased awareness of neglect and outright abuse. Officials overseeing standards seem to be making a bad situation worse, rarely enforcing guidelines.
Enforcing existing government regulations seems to be the exception, not the rule. The current presidential administration vowed to impose tougher standards and crack-downs but has yet to implement any reforms. Regulators are allowing care facilities nationwide to ignore federal staffing regulations, with only four percent receiving citations from government inspectors.
Even more alarming is the inclusion of home caregivers in the statistics. Thirty-three percent of facilities fall short in meeting numerous benchmarks related to nurse and aide staffing developed and supposedly enforced by the federal government.
Short staffing can lead to catastrophe
Sufficient staffing in nursing homes is a direct correlation to the well-being and safety of staff. A lack of employee support results in medical tasks, basic necessities (bathing and diaper changing, and the all-important call buttons going ignored. Neglect runs the risk of a faster route to dementia, not to mention residents stricken with illnesses, with many dying in their beds.
When looking at the 15,000+ nursing homes in the United States, startling statistics from 2021 come to light. More than three-quarters of facilities saw fewer medical staff (nurses and aides) than what is expected when it comes to Medicare’s payment formula. Also, citations from regulators regarding short staffing numbers were slightly less than 600.
While many are quick to blame COVID-19, the problems predate the pandemic. While understaffing received a brighter spotlight during that time, little was done to fix the issues.
Solutions are available
Falling short of regulations breaks the bond of trust between nursing home facilities and loved ones who only want the best care for their loved ones. While help from an attorney may not stop a catastrophe, high-profile lawsuits can place a brighter spotlight on an ongoing problem.