The Center for Public Integrity published a ground-breaking investigative report into understaffing in nursing homes. The report identified myriad problems in care facilities designed to protect and provide for vulnerable seniors. The Center for Public Integrity has now received an award for its important role in drawing attention to the dangerous understaffing and substandard care occurring in homes throughout the United States.
Insufficient staffing remains one of the top warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. In some cases, staff frustration due to overwork and lack of training can also result in nursing home abuse. Hopefully, more journalists and policy makers will begin paying attention to this pressing issue and steps will be taken to make life safer for residents of nursing homes across the United States who are being victimized.
Understaffing and Other Problems are Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
The report published by the Center for Public Integrity, which recently earned the journalism award, was called Understaffed and Underserved: A Look Inside America's Nursing Homes. More than 10,000 nursing facilities across the United States were analyzed as part of the report.
The research revealed significant irregularities in staffing levels at nursing homes were reporting to a federal website consumers use to compare different facilities. More than 80 percent of all facilities listed on the website significantly overestimated the daily minutes of registered nursing care each resident receives. Just over 25 percent of nursing homes self-reporting daily care received by residents reported at least double the level of care actually received, based on cost reports from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Not only are nursing homes lying about the level of care seniors receive, but research also revealed more than 700 care facilities had daily care levels lower than those required by state law. Nursing homes serving a population primarily made up of minorities were found, on average, to offer significantly less care than facilities housing primarily white people. Majority-black nursing homes averaged only around 20 minutes total of registered nurse care per day for residents. Majority-white nursing homes provided an average of 60 percent more minutes with registered nurses on a daily basis compared with homes housing primarily Latino residents and provided an average of 34 percent more daily care level compared with facilities housing primarily black residents.
Almost 100 peer-reviewed academic studies show the more care a senior receives from a registered nurse, the better quality of care the senior receives overall. Lower levels of care, on the other hand, are associated with an increased likelihood the senior will suffer injuries or will die.
The attention brought to this problem by the Center for Public Integrity will hopefully prompt changes to be made to ensure nursing homes increase their staffing levels and quality of care provided. If a nursing home fails to have adequate staff and nursing home abuse occurs as a result, legal action should be taken by victims.