If you think a strong economy is good for all businesses, think again. According to CBS News, a recent study shows that a low unemployment rate results in a lower quality of care at nursing homes.
When jobs are plentiful - as they have been in 2018 - some people looking for work will not consider employment at elder care facilities. A big reason they look elsewhere: the pay and working environment. Nursing aides are among the lowest paid workers in the United States, and they typically face a physically and emotionally taxing environment. For the same reasons, many experienced nursing aides will also leave the industry for another career if the opportunity presents itself.
For many job seekers, the retail or fast food industry is seen as a better alternative. The wages are similar, yet the work environment is seen by many as more desirable. Employees don't have to move and lift patients or assist with bathing and toiletry needs, which are some of the difficult tasks required of nursing aides.
Low unemployment rates linked to poor care for nursing home residents
Researchers found that nursing homes are hit hard by high turnover during good economic times. That may lead to inadequate staffing levels, which is one of the nursing home abuse risk factors. When facilities hire new aides, the employees may not have the experience and training needed to adequately care for elders.
Researchers found the following signs of nursing home abuse and neglect were more common when unemployment rates are low as they are now:
- Pressure sores (bedsores) on residents
- Use of physical restraints
- Significant weight loss among residents
In the study, researchers looked at data from 2001-2015, including employment statistics and state annual re-certification of all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the United States, according to HealthDay News. When the economy is weak and jobs are harder to find, nursing homes offer better care, according to the findings. Additionally, facilities have better health regulation compliance.
How to improve quality of care for nursing home residents?
The study's authors stress the importance of maintaining a stable workforce in order to deliver quality care in nursing homes.
In 2017, nursing aides made a median annual salary of $27,510. Retail workers made $23,370 that same year, according to CBS News. Retail workers may have a better opportunity for advancement and are less likely to be injured on the job than nursing aides, the article suggests.
A significant wage increase for nursing home staff could help retain workers. But making that happen is not so easy. Increasing wages for nursing aides requires an effort by state and federal policymakers because nursing homes rely heavily on funding from Medicare and Medicaid.
Why you need to contact an attorney if you suspect abuse or neglect
Unfortunately, nursing home residents face a higher risk of abuse or neglect when a strong economy is helping so many people. Even when the job is deemed "less desirable," nursing home staff are still expected to treat residents with the utmost care and dignity.
If you suspect your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact an experienced attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. Don't try to negotiate with the nursing home on your own. You deserve a strong advocate who knows how to hold the facility accountable. Trust the nursing home abuse attorneys at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Contact us to learn how we can help you.