Keeping Elders Safe in the Nursing Home

Elder Justice Committee of Metro Justice to hold community forum to discuss staffing levels in nursing homes

By Lori Parker, Esq.

It’s a familiar scenario — an elder who has been living independently has fallen at home, broken a hip, and is now hospitalized. Upon discharge from the hospital, they go to a nursing home for short-term rehabilitation. When the person doesn’t improve as quickly as expected, their stay for rehabilitation is transformed into a long-term nursing home placement.

Many people believe that staying in the nursing home is the only way to keep the person safe — but that is not necessarily true.

Caring for nursing home residents is hard work — work that requires physical endurance along with dedication and compassion. When a nursing home is understaffed, care providers have increased workloads. The increased workload translates into less time for each resident.

At the same time, the care needs of nursing home residents are on the rise. Assisted living and memory care facilities now care for many people who, in the past, might have entered nursing homes. The result is that nursing home residents have complex care needs.

When residents with complex needs meet short-staffed nursing homes, the outcome is not hard to guess: Injuries can occur. For example, bedsores typically result when a patient is not repositioned on a regular basis. Residents who tire of waiting for a staff member may try to undertake tasks independently, resulting in falls and broken bones.

For the past several years, New York’s legislators have considered the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act,” which would require minimum staffing levels in nursing homes and hospitals. Nursing home operators have argued that enactment would increase their costs — which in turn will be passed along to residents and families.

To hear perspectives on the need for safe staffing, Elder Justice Committee of Metro Justice, a member-funded organization based in Rochester, will hold a community forum from 10 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Oct. 17 at King’s Bend Park, North Lodge, 170 W. Jefferson Road, Pittsford. If you are interested in presenting your viewpoint, email to elderjustice@metrojustice.org.

Attorney Lori Parker is the principal at Parker Law Office, 2024 W. Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14523. To contact her,

call 585-281-0717.

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