Nursing Home Horror Stories

A former police officer who recently lost his father in a nursing home told a U.S. Senate committee that in his opinion nursing homes have a license to commit murder. Nursing homes are in the business of making money and like all businesses that means cutting as much costs as possible to increase profits. Unfortunately for nursing homes that often means hiring nursing home staff with minimal qualifications, having inadequate staff, having insufficient training and having low wages and a very high staff turn over rate. 
The result of these affects have the effect of serious and life-threatening problems for nursing home residents such as: weight loss, bedsores (pressure sores), hospitalization, malnutrition and dehydration and even death.
A report prepared by the House Committee on Government Reform found that more than thirty percent of the nursing homes in the United States were cited for an abuse violation that had the potential to cause harm to a resident.  The numbers for Kentucky and Louisville in particular are no better.
Minimal Qualifications
Each state has its own qualifications for who can work on a nursing home staff but a few generalizations can be made about nursing home staff.

Nursing home administrators: generally states do not require any clinical background or extensive experience in the health care field. 

Director of Nursing: generally not required to have any clinical experience in nursing home or hospital settings. This is particularly troubling because many nursing home residents arrive with multiple medical problems. 
Inadequate Staffing
Many researchers report a link between the number of direct nursing care hours a patient receives and the number of facility deficiencies and patient problems. Under staffing contributes to most reports of sever bedsores (pressure ulcers), malnutrition, dehydration, infection, broken bones, falls and death.
An eight year study of over a thousand nursing homes calculated that staffing levels permit the average nursing home resident to receive only 12 minutes a day of care from a registered nurse. This is hardly sufficient to care for a resident. Most residents need help with bathing, dressing, eating, moving between bed, chair and toilet. In addition, many residents need help with using the telephone, taking care of and handling money and personal possessions.

Profits and not-for profits
Staffing shortages are much greater in for profit nursing homes. To increase their profits, these nursing homes often maintain an average of 20-30 percent lower staff than not-for-profit homes. However, they also have a 30 percent higher incident of deficiencies in their homes.

Insufficient Training
Federal and state regulations are bare minimums of standards. The training that occurs at many nursing homes is mostly "on the fly" training and often only done in response to a problem that lead to an injury or abuse claim.

Low Wages and High Turnover
Nursing homes typically pay at of only slightly above minimum wage requirements. This is again done in an effort to minimize costs and increase profits. The effect is the seek and employ a staff that has a high rate of turn over which contributes to the problem of inadequate training because they are constantly having new employees. A fair wage would attract better qualified staff and cut-down on the turn over rate.

 
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