Recent headlines across the country have revealed that a significant percentage of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have involved residents of nursing homes. One of the key reasons for this unfortunate result is understaffing at these facilities.
For decades, elder care advocates have tried to spotlight the problems involving understaffing in the nation’s nursing homes. In far too many nursing facilities that cater to the elderly or the infirm, staff numbers are far too low to ensure adequate care for their residents.
At several nursing homes across the country, the COVID-19 outbreak has raged unchecked. At these facilities, advocates say that the protocols for prevention of infections are simply not being followed as stringently as they should be in order to avoid a massive outbreak. Basic protocols like wearing of personal protection equipment have not been followed at these homes. In addition, hand-washing and hygiene protocols have also been neglected.
As nursing care advocates know, these are not problems that have just emerged since the pandemic. Rather, COVID-19 has only exposed the serious problems involving under staffing at nursing homes. Understaffing is the basic problem that gives rise to other problems like negligence, failure to adhere to infection control and other factors that have contributed to a significant number of cases at these facilities. At many facilities, the pandemic has spread like wildfire, killing and sickening residents as well as staff members.
In some countries like Canada, news of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes have worked to intensify the calls for better supervision and monitoring of nursing homes. So far, despite the numerous headlines, there seems to be no such outcry of a response in the United States.
It is common knowledge that senior citizens are more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Many of the elderly have weakened immune systems which places them at a higher risk of infections. They also live in close proximity to each other at these homes, further increasing the risk of infection and the spread of communicable respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.
For nursing homes to be able to block the outbreak of COVID-19 at their premises, there must be sufficient staff members to not only care for residents, but also to supervise other staff members. Only when there is enough of a staff-to-patient ratio to ensure that proper treatment and care is administered to all patients can the prevention of disease and illness be achieved. Having a central coordination team that is responsible for overseeing adherence to all social distancing and hand sanitation protocols in nursing homes would go a long way in helping these facilities adhere to the rules and protect their residents. So far, however it doesn’t seem like nursing homes are stepping up to employ more staff members any time soon.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of elder abuse or neglect, it is important to speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to determine your legal rights to a claim.