Deciding whether to put a loved one into a nursing home is the one of the most difficult decisions we must all face. In today’s fast paced society, however, it has become increasingly difficult to care for the elderly at home. Even more daunting, is choosing the right nursing home. Indeed, making a decision on a facility is difficult; with more and more nursing homes going up every year, the number of available options seems endless, even in some of the more remote sections of the country. Although on the surface many nursing homes may appear to be the same, there are dramatic differences between nursing homes, and unfortunately, many shortcomings. In order to have a better understanding of how nursing homes can be so dramatically different in quality of care, and to help you choose which nursing home might be best for your loved ones, you should first have a basic understanding of how nursing homes function in the United States.
First and foremost, it is important to constantly be aware that more than 80% of nursing homes in the Unites States are for-profit, publicly traded, corporations. This is in direct contrast to hospitals in the Unites States, which 87% of are non-profit operations. So how does this affect you and your family? Simple. In any publicly traded corporation, the final goal will always be profit. The Profits must come first. This is not just common practice, it is written into law. By law a publically traded corporations the most important, if not the only, obligation is to increase the profits of their shareholders. This set up has helped drive industrial and technological advancements at a staggering pace. However when it is applied to the practice of nursing homes and long term care, a problem arises.
By nature, medicine and long term care are extremely expensive. The cost to run hospitals and long term care, and nursing homes can reach staggering figures. In fact, it is estimated that at least $180 billion is spent on critical care alone in the United States each year. Although cost cutting is always a simple and desirable way to boost profits in any corporation, the nature of health care and long-term care simply does not allow for it. When dealing with the lives of human beings, there are large and unavoidable costs connected to providing their patients with the care they need to stay healthy with an acceptable quality of life. Unfortunately, this does not stop these corporate nursing homes from doing whatever they can to minimize their spending.
This cost cutting rears its ugly head in many forms in corporate nursing homes. Most apparent however, is the effect it has on the staff. Many for-profit nursing homes are dramatically under staffed, many of whom do not have the proper training to manage their positions in the first place. Lack of training, oversight, and personnel immediately translates into health risks to the patient. This includes, but is not limited to: bed sores, falls, under and over medicating, mixing up patients’ medications, unacceptable poor hygiene, physical abuse by staff, and lack of response to emergency situations. Incidents such as this are a daily occurrence. Fortunately however, you have the power to choose where to place your loved ones, and when the worst happens, you have the legal power to do whatever you can to rectify the situation.
When the worst happens to a loved one in a nursing home, contact an attorney immediately. The status quo of dramatic cost cutting in the nursing home industry will not change until it is no longer profitable to continue cutting costs and quality of care. By bringing a suit against a nursing home or long term care facility, you are demanding they change their way of business by punishing them financially for their neglect. By contacting an attorney who specializes in nursing homes, you are doing your part to make sure what terrible things happened to your loved ones do not happen to someone else.