New research from the University of Illinois at Chicago has many questioning – “is nursing home neglect more common in for-profit homes?” Let’s take a look at what the new research suggests, and why it is important for nursing home residents in all types of facility.
What New Research Shows about Nursing Home Neglect
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, led by UIC’s School of Public Health, examined records of around 1,100 people to analyze whether for-profit homes pose more of a risk to residents than non-profit homes. For the study, researchers examined records of individuals 60 or older who had been discharged from Chicago-area hospitals between 2007 and 2011. The breakdown of those studied included individuals entering the hospital, and accounted for where they had entered the hospital from. This included:
- Around 621 individuals entered the hospital from their home
- 49 individuals entered the hospital from assisted living facilities
- 369 individuals entered the hospital from for-profit skilled nursing facilities
- 61 individuals entered the hospital from non-profit homes
To analyze records, researchers developed a metric called the Clinical Signs of Neglect Scale. This metric assess whether patients had experienced neglect or abuse prior to hospitalization. The metric specifically focuses in on diagnoses commonly associated with nursing home neglect, including pressure ulcers or broken catheters. It places less emphasis on signs of neglect like malnutrition and dehydration, which are less likely to indicate neglect.
Is Nursing Neglect More Common in For-Profit Homes?
Based on their analysis, UIC researchers found that individuals living in for-profit homes were diagnosed with “substantially more clinical signs of neglect” than patients living in non-profit homes or living independently in the community. Among the most revealing elements of the research was the following:
- For-profit homes were found, overall, to be “significantly inferior” across almost every measure, including capacity, staffing, and deficiencies.
- Serious signs of neglect were more common in for-profit facilities, including stage 3 and stage 4 pressure ulcers, severe dehydration among residents with feeding tubes, and lack of access to medications used for management of chronic conditions.
- High-level administrators in for-profit homes were found to be paid significantly higher wages, thus causing a disparity in the pay that staff members received. This suggests that staff at for-profit homes are underpaid, which results in poor morale and job satisfaction, and ultimately, places residents at risk.
- The number of for-profit homes in the U.S. has increased in recent years, while non-profit homes have declined.
- Overall, the number of nursing home beds has decreased, despite the fact that the population is aging and there is an increasing number of elderly Americans.
The Scope of Nursing Home Neglect
Currently, around 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes. With Americans aging at incredible rates, quality and care are important concerns for the industry. Quality, care, and safety are also important concerns for the families impacted by what happens in nursing homes – primarily residents. The scope of nursing home neglect is broad in terms of what actions or inactions constitute neglect. Nursing home neglect may include any of the following:
- Personal hygiene neglect (personal and oral care, cleanliness, bathing, or grooming)
- Basic needs neglect (food, water, shelter, heat or air conditioning)
- Medical neglect (untreated wounds, lack of medication administration, failure to call 911 after an accident or injury)
- Emotional neglect (anger, frustration, berating, bullying, preventing socialization, isolation)
The scope of nursing home neglect and related concerns is tremendous from a geographical standpoint also. Nursing home abuse and neglect are not limited to one part of the country or another – it is a nationwide problem. To make matters more concerning, almost 70 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. are for-profit businesses – the type of facility researchers have deemed more common for neglect.
Can Nursing Home Neglect be Prevented?
For many years, researchers, advocates, and many in the legal system have rallied for better regulations and more strict laws for nursing homes to follow. It is often believed that more regulatory involvement and harsher sanctions could be a catalyst for change, as nursing homes would be more accountable for the care they provide. Unfortunately, change in this industry appears to be slow.
Researchers continue to advocate for greater oversight of nursing homes, particularly those operating as for-profit businesses. It is suggested that certain measures could improve care and correct many of the issues leading to neglect. Such suggestions include:
- More accountability among facilities and administrators
- Higher-quality training for administrators and staff
- More regulatory oversight
- Better staffing and training measures
It will, no doubt, take some time before such changes are implemented. Still, there is hope that research like that conducted by UIC will continue to bolster support for change. Further, hopefully it will bolster support for the protection of nursing home residents’ legal rights.
Concerned about Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If you are concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect, it is important that you find answers to help ensure the safety and security of your loved one. If you are concerned but have no proof, consider taking the following steps:
- Take notes of any signs of abuse or neglect, including conversations with your loved one.
- Stay calm when dealing with nursing home staff. Ask questions and demand answers, but don’t let the situation spiral out of control.
- Talk to your loved one’s healthcare provider about your concerns.
- Contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) and find out what steps can be taken to initiate an investigation.
If you are concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect, one of the best steps you can take is contacting a nursing home abuse attorney. An attorney with experience managing nursing home-related cases can offer valuable support as you address your concerns and take steps to protect your loved one. An attorney can also provide you with guidance that is legally sound and will uphold your loved one’s legal rights as well.
To learn more, contact Brown, Christie & Green by filling out our online form.