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Will staffing shortages lead to increases in nursing home abuse?

Nursing homes and other medical care facilities are required to meet the standards established for them by law to ensure that their residents are safe. In Illinois and other states throughout the nation, care facilities must employ adequate numbers of nurses, doctors and support staff to provide ailing individuals with sufficient attention to meet their medical needs. An unfortunate trend throughout the state threatens to put some Illinois care residents in jeopardy of suffering nursing home abuse.

Families for Better Care is an advocacy organization that monitors nursing and care homes throughout the country. It recently ranked the 50 states in terms of the quality of care each provides to individuals in nursing homes. Based on the organization's rankings, Illinois finished in the bottom ten of all states.

The main reason that Illinois ranked so low was that it is suffered many problems related to care home staffing. When homes do not employ enough workers to meet the needs of their residents, residents can suffer harm from negligence and more overt forms of abuse. Many workers burn out in their jobs because of the demands of working in such high pressure environments and some facilities struggle to replace the employees that they lose.

Additionally, the administrator for one home in the state noted that the Illinois population is aging which increases the number of people in need of care in nursing homes. As the in-need population goes up it can be difficult to find workers to support the increased demand. Some homes have tried to improve worker incentives by raising wages to draw in new pools of care givers.

As the state battles to overcome this problem, the welfare of thousands of nursing home residents hangs in the balance. When too few workers try to manage the vital medical matters of a large group of patients, significant and deadly problems can arise. For individuals who believe that their loved ones may have suffered nursing home neglect due to low staffing, legal remedies may exist to help them seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: WGEM.com, "Illinois nursing homes face staffing shortages," Bryant Clerkley, Oct. 8, 2014

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