The coronavirus pandemic that ravaged the United States, and other countries, in 2020 had the most profound impact on the elderly. Adults 65 and older accounted for 80% of coronavirus deaths in 2020, and those who lived in nursing homes were even more likely to contract the virus and die. Yet other factors, beyond patients’ age and communal living environment, played a role in nursing homes’ coronavirus outbreaks and failures.
In fact, these five factors played a role in nursing home failures amid the pandemic and could play a role in other nursing care failures if not addressed:
1. Staffing. Nursing homes are chronically understaffed. That increased during the pandemic as some workers contracted coronavirus and some left their job because of concerns for their own health. Staffing will remain a problem for nursing homes because often, certified nursing assistants earn very little pay – an average of $28,450 in the United States, less than some fast-food workers and retail workers make.
2. Funding. Many nursing home residents receive Medicaid to fund their care. However, Medicaid often doesn’t cover the costs of adequate care. And sometimes, nursing homes resort to letting long-term care residents develop conditions that require hospitalizations. Because if they take back a long-term care resident after a hospital stay, the nursing homes receive higher Medicaid subsidies.
3. Corporate structure. The complex nature of nursing home corporate structures can make it difficult for victims of nursing home neglect or abuse to collect damages from a lawsuit.
4. Lack of oversight and regulation enforcement. It isn’t always easy to spot nursing home abuse and neglect. That was even more true in 2020. People couldn’t personally visit their loved ones and inspect the cleanliness of their rooms and notice any signs of abuse. Also, many nursing care facilities have become yo-yo regulation offenders – found violating certain standards of care, resolving those issues and paying fines, but then being found in violation again. Too often, enforcement for care violations doesn’t end problems for residents in troubled nursing facilities.
5. The age of facilities. If your loved one is in a facility built 30 or 40 years ago, the facility likely wasn’t designed to minimize infection spread. Plus, nursing homes built more like hospitals make it difficult for staffers to care for a small number of residents, like newly built facilities do.
If you have a loved one in nursing care, these five factors can impact your family member’s care – whether a pandemic is going on or not. You may need to hold a nursing care facility accountable for abusing or neglecting your loved one. An elder care attorney can help you – so you can receive damages for your loved one’s negligent or abusive care and help prevent that happening again.