NJ.com had an article about the lack of staff at nursing homes and how that directly affects the quality of care provided to the residents.  The short-staffing prevents supervision to prevent falls and resident to resident altercations.  The lack of staff prevents residents from being repositioned to avoid pressure injures or bedsores.  The under-staffing makes it impossible for the caregivers to spend the time with the residents to feed them or participate in social activities.  It is the key reason for the neglect suffered by nursing home residents.  And everybody knows it.

“Anyone who has spent any time in a nursing home has a story to tell. About a loved one suffered while waiting for help to go to the bathroom. Or someone who went hungry because there was no one to feed them. A call bell that went unanswered for hours.”

It takes time and staff to regularly turn a patient every two and a half hours, which is what needs to be done to avert pressure ulcers. When bed sores develop, it is a direct consequence of not having enough staff to prevent it.

Federal data shows N.J. nursing homes are understaffed. One-in-four of the more than 360 nursing homes in the state had staffing issues, according to reports issued this year by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

They revealed 25 percent were rated “below average” or “much below average” in the number of nursing personnel available to take care of residents — a ranking that takes into account that some nursing homes have sicker residents and may therefore need more staff than other nursing homes whose residents aren’t as sick.  Half of those same facilities had poor health inspection reports as well.

At the same time, those self-reported numbers by the nursing homes themselves may not true.  It is well known that nursing homes inflate their staffing numbers to get a better star rating on Nursing Home Compare.  However, new payroll data being collected by the government will provide a more accurate picture of the number of staff on duty.

Families for Better Care, a non-profit advocacy organization, said the state ranked 45 nationwide in the amount of direct care service hours provided per resident. In its own analysis, the Texas-based group said nursing home residents here received 34 minutes less direct care daily, when compared to the country’s top-ranked states, or an average 2.27 hours of direct care staffing hours per resident.  The state minimum in New Jersey is 2.5 hours, according to the Department of Health.

“They like to keep the profits close to the vest — to give it back to shareholders instead of staff,” Lee said.  New Jersey is the seventh most expensive state for nursing home care, according to a study, by SeniorLiving.org, based on the most recent data from the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. The average cost of a semi-private room in New Jersey is $10,646 per month or $127,752 per year, the study found. That compares to the national average of $7,441 per month or $89,297 per year.

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