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Nursing Home Workers Protest Wages, Understaffing, Overtime

Cooper City nursing home abuse attorneys have been closely watching the developments out of Illinois, where thousands of nursing home staffers are protesting for better wages and working conditions throughout the state.

Local media is reporting that some 2,000 employees at more than 50 nursing home facilities throughout the state, following union contract negotiations. Among the complaints being lodged at the simultaneous pickets are:

–Inadequate supplies to provide care;
–High rates of employee turnover;
–Persistent problems with short-term staffing;
–Overtime demands at low rates of pay.

Of course, these issues are not unique to nursing home staffers in Illinois, and such conditions contribute to nursing home neglect and abuse every day across the country.

Protesters have said that inadequate staffing levels result in inadequate levels of care by employees who are exhausted.

There is not just anecdotal evidence of this – it’s scientifically proven as well. Recently in our Cooper City Nursing Home Lawyers’ Blog, we reported about a study released by the Medical Society of the State of New York, indicating high levels of doctor stress had a profoundly negative impact on patient care. Similarly, when nurses report high rates of burnout, there are increased rates of patient infections.

There is every reason to believe this same phenomenon carries over to nursing home staffers, such as aides and LPNs, who are responsible for the day-to-day care and needs of patients and residents.

Two years ago, legislators in Illinois passed a nursing home law that was groundbreaking, and mandated that all nursing homes equip their facilities with an adequate number of workers so that low-quality concerns could be addressed. The law was passed in response to a series of articles by The Chicago Tribune, chronicling nursing home neglect and abuse throughout the state. It requires a total of nearly 4 hours per patient of direct nursing and personal care for every nursing home patient by 2014. That’s a sharp increase of the 2.5 hours that had been previously required. However, many facilities have so far fallen short of that requirement. (Nursing home residents’ rights in Florida are spelled out in Florida Statute 400.022.)

Inadequate staffing has long been attributed to problems in nursing homes. A report released by the National Association of State Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs back in 1999 indicated that understaffing, insufficient training and supervision are primary contributors to the five most common complaints in nursing homes. These complaints are:
1. Accidents or improper handling;
2. Requests for assistance that go unmet;
3. Neglected personal hygiene;
4. Lack of respect for residents;
5. Lack of an adequate care plan.

That report goes on to indicate that neglect in nursing homes is essentially a form of fraud under The False Claims Act because services which are required to be provided and for which payment has been made is not being provided.

It is rare that we hear from nursing home aides and other workers on their perspective of this issue. It’s important, for the safety and security of nursing home residents, that administrators, owners and operators address these concerns.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Two thousand Illinois nursing home employees protest for better wages, Oct. 10, 2012, By Kelsie Passolt, WREX-13

More Blog Entries:
Doctors’ Stress Levels Affect Nursing Home Patient Care, Aug. 28, 2012, Cooper City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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