Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Chicago, IL

Experts Warn of Unprecedented Staffing Shortages in Nursing Homes

Old man sitting with his hand on a cane in a nursing home.

Entrusting a loved one to the care of a nursing facility is a significant decision, often made with the expectation of compassionate and professional care. Unfortunately, the reality can be starkly different due to staffing shortages in nursing homes. Instances of abuse and neglect in Chicago nursing homes and nursing facilities throughout the nation represent a systemic issue that poses a real threat to the well-being and dignity of our elderly population.

A Tribune-Review investigation into Western Pennsylvania’s nursing homes paints a disturbing picture of the state’s long-term care industry. With an aging population — the number of adults 85 and older in Pennsylvania is expected to double by 2030 — the industry struggles with unprecedented staffing shortages and a diminishing quality of care.

The analysis of 168 nursing homes revealed that 53% received ratings “below average” or “much below average” by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Furthermore, 13% appeared on a list for abuse or neglect, with incidents ranging from fatal injuries to gross misconduct by staff. Despite these alarming findings, no Pennsylvania nursing home licenses were revoked in the past three years.

Staffing shortages in nursing homes put residents at risk

The deficiencies in care and oversight are exemplified by the case of Solomon Rivers, a nursing assistant charged with allowing a resident with the mental capacity of a second grader to engage in a sex act with him. This and other horrifying incidents underscore the systemic failures in nursing home regulation and oversight.

The federal CMS offers a five-star rating system for nursing homes, but even this tool has limitations. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey notes staffing shortages in state agencies responsible for inspections, casting doubt on the reliability of these ratings. A 2023 survey of Pennsylvania nursing homes further highlights the crisis, showing significant staffing shortages and an increasing reliance on expensive agency staff.

While this study focused on nursing homes in Pennsylvania, staffing shortages are a problem nationwide. For many families, these systemic issues translate into personal tragedies. Many families who are unaware of how to find the right nursing home place their loved ones in facilities that don’t have the best reputations. This is often due to the lack of information and the pressure of finding a nursing home quickly.

A need for reform in nursing homes

The crisis extends beyond Pennsylvania. Nationwide, more than 450 nursing homes have closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, displacing thousands of residents. As the population ages, experts warn of increasing backlogs in hospitals and a growing scarcity of nursing home beds.

The situation demands urgent attention and reform. Without significant changes, the long-term care industry, already strained, faces a bleak future.

All states inspect and certify nursing homes to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid payments, with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approving these certifications. CMS rates facilities on a five-star system based on inspections. Five stars are “much above average,” whereas one star is “much below average.” CMS also flags nursing homes for abuse or neglect incidents.

If you suspect nursing home neglect, demand justice

Families put their trust in nursing homes to care for their loved ones, but sometimes, these facilities betray that trust through abuse or neglect, leading to serious injuries, illnesses, or deaths. Addressing such negligence requires robust legal action and accountability. If your loved one was harmed as a result of nursing home negligence, it’s important to understand your rights and legal options.

At Ferrell Young, LLC, our experienced Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys support injury victims and their families through these challenging times. The consequences of neglect can be both painful and costly, with substantial medical bills and other expenses.

We’ll meet with you promptly and advocate vigorously on your behalf, ensuring dedicated and effective representation every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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