Federal Hearings on Care in Nursing Homes

Federal hearings were held highlighting the current state of the quality of nursing home care. The primary focus of the hearing was on staffing and the use of medications.

Understaffing is a devastating practice that Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers has been dedicated to combating through legal action. Last week in Washington D.C., lawmakers and long-term care industry leaders and advocates came together for a hearing on the issues that are plaguing nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the United States.

The long-term care community came demanding that there be an increase in oversight of nursing homes to make sure that nursing home administrators and staff are meeting quality standards. They also met to discuss a federal study on the use of dangerous antipsychotic medications in nursing homes.

Who was there?

There were several different groups present to discuss the quality of care in skilled nursing home facilities.  The American Health Care Association brought Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the group. He was quoted in McKnight’s stating that “quality of care in skilled nursing facilities has “improved dramatically” over the last seven years. He also said the number of residents receiving antipsychotic medications has declined significantly since 2011.”

Another group present was LeadingAge. They were represented by their President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. She is reported to have brought up the impact of the industry on caregivers. She reminded law makers and other participants at the hearing that understaffing nursing homes also affects the staff working in extremely negative ways.  

Also present were advocates with the Elder Justice Coalition and Long-Term Care Community Coalition. They were invited to speak during the hearing. They discussed topics ranging from the wellbeing of caregivers and residents’ families, hospice, Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as coverage for long-term healthcare and nursing home care quality.

Richard Mollot, who is the executive director of the Long-Term Care Community Coalition, claims that because there is a lack of effective enforcement by the federal government which allows nursing homes and their parent companies to maximize profits at the “expense of resident care”.

What Occurred?

During the hearings, there were discussions geared towards preventing abuse and neglect in nursing homes and extended care facilities. Many of the participating groups made recommendations to Congress to help improve care provided in these facilities as well as prevent abuse and neglect. 

Mollot and the Long-Term Care Community Coalition came pushing for better enforcements of the “minimum standards to stop repeated incidents of abuse, neglect and crimes against residents.” He reminded those in attendance of the hearing that “over 40% of U.S. nursing homes have, what we call, chronic deficiencies — repeated violations of the same regulatory requirement year after year after year.”

The previously mentioned Mark Parkinson stated that he would work with lawmakers, regulators, and other stakeholders to make sure that the recommendations at the hearing would be advanced. One of the major points was creating policies that would “help facilities retain more high-quality staff…” This staffing issue, along with understaffing is a prominent issue in nursing home care complaints.

What is Understaffing?

Nursing home understaffing is when there are not enough nursing home staff to meet the specific needs of all the residents. Often times, this is an intentional practice by the owners of nursing homes or the administration in order to cut costs and increase profits. It is ALWAYS at the expense of residents’ safety and health.

The number one income source for every nursing home is number of residents. Want revenues to go up?  Fill those nursing home beds with residents, the sicker and needier, the better, as these residents fetch a larger pay for nursing homes.

The staff working does not see the profit though. They are stuck working in unfavorable conditions: long hours, taking care of too many residents, and not receiving a competitive pay.

The number one expense for every nursing home that our firm has observed is staffing. Nursing home administrators will hire fewer nursing staff members, pay them less, and have them work fewer hours. This also affects the quality of staff, as less paying jobs do not attract the highest quality nursing staff.

For more information on understaffing in nursing homes click here.

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