Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Monday, May 15, 2017

New York Faces Critical Lack of Nursing Home Aides - What This Means for Your Elderly Loved Ones

The data is crystal clear – the United States is running out of caregivers. But that’s not all, the country’s population is aging. Put these two together and what you have is a complicated situation that threatens to have millions of vulnerable seniors, many of whom have serious disabilities, facing neglect or abuse in understaffed elder care facilities.

Elder abuse, in whichever form, is a crime. If your loved one has faced neglect or abuse at a care facility, talk to a New York nursing home abuse lawyer about how you can get justice for your senior loved one.  

Why Are we Approaching a Caregiver Crisis?

Currently, the United States has about 3 million nurses. Even with this large number demand still vastly outpaces supply. According to a 2013 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation set to experience the highest growth between 2012 and 2022 is personal care aides with 580,800 new positions to be created. Home health aides come in at position four with 424,200 jobs while nursing assistants is position six with 312,200 jobs.

Collectively, 1.3 million paid caregiver positions will be created by 2022. These care givers will be providing services such as helping seniors wake up in the morning, bathe, dress, take care of themselves and even perform activities at home and in assisted living centers.  

The primary cause of this huge demand for primary care is the aging baby boomer generation. By 2030, America’s senior population will grow 75 percent to reach 69 million. By 2050, the number will have hit 88.5 million.

Many of these seniors have medical conditions. The National Council of aging estimates that 80 percent or four out of every five seniors has a chronic condition. Up to 68 percent of them have two chronic conditions.

The country’s nurses are also growing old. A third of the nation’s nurses (one million nurses) are above 50 years. They will be retiring in a decade or two.

Another cause for this great shortage of primary caregivers is wages. Up to 75 percent of home care and personal care services are paid by Medicare and Medicaid. The national average hourly rate is $10.11, lower than the average rate a decade ago.

Despite the growing demand for caregivers, financial pressures faced by the two federal schemes make it unlikely that the rate will be increased.

What Does This Mean for Your Elderly Loved Ones in New York?

Like many other states, New York is facing a severe shortage of primary care givers. A New York Daily News investigation revealed that many elder homes were facing cutbacks and tightened labor markets, resulting in poor care for vulnerable seniors. Many of the elderly in understaffed homes were often left unattended or neglected, causing them to suffer malnutrition and dehydration. Many of those who need help going to the toilet either submitted to going hours with soiled diapers or delayed taking their oral medications because they were afraid they’d wet themselves and there wouldn’t be anyone to help.

Today, a few care givers are forced to oversee as many as 40 patients at a time, many caregivers resorted to choosing between seniors, meaning many are neglected.

Many homes, in a bid to curb the shortage of caregivers, bend hiring rules, meaning under-qualified aides or aides with criminal records land positions in nursing homes.

Poor staffing also means there is no one to enforce peace among residents in homes. This is especially dangerous where nursing homes have elders with dementia who are prone to violence or abuse.  

Regardless of the shortage of caregivers, this pattern of elder abuse and neglect is unlawful and downright degrading. If your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, consult a New York nursing home abuse lawyer for a free consultation and assessment of your rights at (toll free) 1-844-855-HURT and locally at 716-254-2554.

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