Threats of Understaffed Nursing Homes

nursinghomeMany nursing home facilities are extremely understaffed that they might be endangering the welfare of the patients; this is according to a report by federal health authorities. The report suggests more stringent recommendations that will require thousands of nursing facilities to employ more nurses and nurses’ aides.

According to several studies, under-staffing in nursing homes has led to many issues in patient’s condition like severe bedsores, abnormal weight loss, and malnutrition. It is, of course, hard to maintain the welfare of the seniors if a facility lacks manpower. It has been reported that a huge amount of patients have developed life-threatening infections that could have been avoided if there is proper staffing. 

The US government has already made several vital steps to resolve the issue. It suggests new federal standards to ensure that patients receive no less than two hours of care every day from nursing aides, amongst other things, there must be sufficient amount of nurses and other health professional within the facility. The research states that 54 % of nursing facilities presently fall underneath the suggested minimum standard. This is very threatening, given that it may endanger the life of the senior.

Studies suggest that patients receive only a minimum of 12 minutes each day of care from nurses. Presently, 31 percent of nursing facilities don’t meet that standard amount of nurses. Though the government has intentions in resolving the problem, it is still impossible for the government to propose minimum staffing recommendations since they were supplying insufficient subsidies under Medicare insurance and State Medicaid programs. Many senior care authorities explained that it is also hard to attract and retain good employees because of the status of the economy. Making the job appealing for nurses and developing a program will increase the quality of healthcare service that our seniors will receive in a nursing home. 

Owning Nursing Homes

92% of county-owned nursing homes outside New York City lost money in 2010 and are struggling to survive, a report uncovered. Counties have been looking to leave the nursing-home business as expenses rise and as they face fiscal demands from flat tax earnings to pay for government operations. The report from the Rochester-based Center for Governmental Research said 33 areas own nursing homes, down from 40 in 1997. Eight, including Rockland County, are in the process of selling their features and five plan to put them on the block.

The New York State Health Foundation, a private Albany-based group, requested the research. “In the past few years, six areas have marketed or closed their houses, with mixed results ranging from improvements in proper care expressing closing of one poorly performing house,” said Donald Pryor, the study’s author, said in a statement. “Other areas have kept their houses but are dealing with an increasingly rugged landscape.” Counties traditionally considered running an elderly care service as a way to take care of its elderly, particularly those who are poor. Yet at a time of cost constraints, counties are finding the mission affected as more private houses are built.

Nursing-HomesWestchester County marketed its elderly care service to the Westchester County Nursing Center and the service was closed in 2009. Dutchess County sold its elderly care service in 1998. Monroe County has struggled with growing expenses of its nursing home and in Albany County; there has been a delivered debate about whether to sell its service. Broome and Chemung counties also own nursing homes. The troubles are expected to grow as the population ages, the research discovered. In the upstate areas with assisted living features, there will be 180,000 more residents older than 75 by 2030. The research said wages grew at all assisted living features 37 % since 2001 and were up 45 % at county houses.

While county houses are about 8 % of all assisted living features in the state, they represent about 11 % of all the beds in the state because they are among the state’s largest facilities. Many of the patients rely on State Medicaid programs, yet the payments haven’t kept up with the expenses by as much as $100 a day, the review said. State Medicaid programs represented 71 % of county-owned homes’ revenue in 20130, in comparison to 55 % for other houses. County assisted living features reported a lack of $201 million in 2010, double the decrease in comparison to 2005, the review said.

Nursing Homes Vacancy

At the House Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Simsbury, 17 of the nursing home’s 73 beds sat vacant last spring, a 23% opening rate that would have been unlikely five years ago. The home’s occupancy has decreased despite its above-average medical care quality ratings in the government national rating system. “There are a lot of aspects, a lot of projects out there now to keep people out of nursing homes,” said Keith Brown, the home’s manager. “And with the increase in home care, we’re seeing a weaker citizen population. So we have fewer citizens with greater skill.” The Simsbury home is not unique: Nearly one-third of Connecticut’s nursing homes are less than 90 % filled.

nursing_homesOf the 68 homes with higher-than-average opening prices, 20 were only 60-80% filled, leaving hundreds of beds unused. State-wide, even though 15 nursing homes have closed since 2008, at least 2,450 beds were vacant as of May. The state information show that occupancy prices decreased in all but two areas since 2004, falling from 96% to 88% in Tolland; 95 to 88% in Litchfield; 95 to 91% in New Haven; 93 to 90% in Hartford; 95 to 92% in Middlesex; and 97 to 93% in Windham. The exclusions were Fairfield County, where the occupancy rate stayed at about 92% and New London, where it increased from 88% to 92%.

Overall, Connecticut’s nursing home occupancy rate has tumbled in the past years, from 93.3% in 2003, the third maximum in the nation, to 89.8%, the Tenth maximum, according to March government information. The latest state Department of Social Services nursing home demographics put the statewide occupancy amount at just above 90%. Only 11 of the 230 certified nursing homes in the state were full to capacity as of last spring. Nursing home directors say the opening rate has been motivated by a number of aspects, including state projects to keep more seniors and impaired citizens in home and community configurations, as well as the ballooning assisted-living industry, generally controlled in Connecticut.

Nursing Homes Cost

The cost of living at nursing homes has soared to a new high of more than $80,000 per year. Over the past five years, the average yearly price of private nursing homes has jumped 24% from $67,527 to $83,950, according to Genworth’s 2013 Cost of Care Survey, based on data from nearly 15,000 long-term health care providers. From 2012 to 2013 alone, the price climbed 4%. A combination of factors is pushing expenses greater, said Bob Bua, V. P. of Genworth. Expenses like insurance, food, building maintenance and labor expenses are all going up and being passed along to customers as a result. “Nursing home employees hardly ever get pay decreases, food hardly ever costs less, rent hardly ever goes down, it’s an ever-increasing cycle,” Bua said.

nursing_homesIt’s not much cheaper for a semi-private room at a nursing home, where space is shared with at least one other person. This brings up at an average $75,405 per year, up 23% from five years ago. A less expensive alternative to nursing homes are assisted living facilities because they don’t offer the same level of care, but these are also seeing significant price increases from year-to-year. The average yearly price of care in an assisted living service is $41,400, up nearly 5% from last year and 23% greater than five years ago, Genworth discovered.

The price of at-home care, such as home health aides or homemakers, is rising at a much slower pace. Hiring a homemaker, who typically assists elderly people with cleaning, cooking and transportation, currently costs an average $41,756 per year, up just 1% from last year and a mere 4% increase from five years ago. Home health aides, who provide more hands-on care like bathing and grooming, cost $44,479 per year, up 5% from five years ago. At-home care is also the most attractive option for many elderly people. A separate Genworth study discovered that 78% of respondents would prefer to receive care in their own houses rather than go to a nursing home or assisted living service.