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Staffing woes add to the nursing home pandemic death toll

Nursing home staffing woes

A comprehensive report of 15,645 nursing homes in the United States concludes that high staff turnover likely contributed to the number of pandemic-related deaths, according to The New York Times.

The story, based on a study published in the health policy journal Health Affairs, found the average turnover rate was 128%, with some facilities reporting rates over 300%.

Nursing homes, which house more than 1 million residents across the country, have long been beleaguered by inadequate staffing, low pay, and quality-of-care issues.

The pandemic has worsened the situation, with some staff walking off the job for fear of catching COVID-19 from residents.

That, in turn, has made it even more difficult for nursing homes to impose safety standards because they are forced to hire less-experienced and less-skilled staff.

The deadly result is that the Times recorded 172,000 pandemic-related deaths at nursing homes through February.

That amounts to more than one-third of all COVID-related deaths in the country. Vaccination rates are on the rise, but far too late for many residents and their grieving families.

Addressing the pandemic problem at nursing homes

The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that nursing home reforms are essential. What insiders cannot agree on is the nature of the reforms for protecting elderly and frail residents.

Those who own the nursing homes blame low Medicaid reimbursement rates, which they say make it difficult to hire and retain skilled workers.

In response, critics cite the private investment firms that own many nursing homes, accusing them of prioritizing profits over quality care for residents.

Nursing home staff – those on the front lines of caring for residents – say they struggle under difficult working conditions.

They cite a lack of staff, which leads to worker burnout, and inadequate resources, which combine to erode morale and a willingness to continue working in the field.

When knowledgeable staff quit, they say, they are often replaced by people with little experience, creating an unstable workforce.

The burden for reform likely falls on lawmakers, which unfortunately means lobbyists and politics will play outsized roles in the effort.

The authors of the study recommend focusing on staff retention. They propose accomplishing this, in part, by modifying the system used to rate nursing homes and rewarding homes with better ratings.

Addressing nursing home problems now

Talk of future reforms is well-intentioned but does little to calm the nerves of families whose loved ones are in nursing homes.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has been infected by the virus – or if you someone you love died in a nursing home due to COVID-19, you are likely fighting an emotional and mental battle over alleged negligence on several fronts.

You are up against the bureaucracy of the nursing home, which will never admit to any wrongdoing. Its insurance company may try to tempt you with a deceptive, lowball settlement offer. Government agencies will frustrate you with a never-ending jungle of red tape.

The attorneys at Braswell Murphy, LLC can provide you with both hope and results.

Based in Mobile, our law firm represent clients throughout Alabama just like you whose families have suffered due to nursing home negligence.

Our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers can protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests.

Whether it’s in settlement negotiations or in court in front of a judge, we will fight for the compensation you deserve and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.

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