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Could Minimum Wage Increase Enhance Nursing Home Care?

The ongoing debate on increasing the federal minimum wage could have unexpected, but welcome, consequences, like the enhancement of care available at the nation’s nursing homes. That could, in turn, mean fewer cases of abuse and neglect of residents at these facilities.

At many nursing homes in Georgia, poor care and even abuse of residents is often linked to understaffing and high rates of staff turnover. Many nursing homes see high staff attrition rates, and in most cases, staff members choose to move jobs when there is a higher pay scale promised. These high staff turnover rates are part of the reason for the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on these nursing homes.

When the pandemic raged across Georgia, residents in nursing homes were some of the earliest victims. Higher rates of staff turnover meant that many of these nursing homes were understaffed. Fewer staff members meant lower adherence to social distancing protocols of the type that would have helped prevent nursing home residents from infecting each other. Fewer number of staff members also discouraged stronger adherence to the kind of sanitation protocols that would have prevented the spread of infections via contaminated surfaces and objects.

Thought an increase in the federal minimum wage was part of the proposed Covid-19 relief bill, the measure was ultimately not included in the bill. However, it is likely that a minimum wage increase will soon become part of American reality as there seems to be general support for an increase to the minimum wage.

The interesting consequence of an increased minimum wage could be a reduction in staff turnover at America’s nursing homes, which in turn could help prevent the slow erosion of care that has occurred in these nursing home over the past decade.  Staff turnover rates at nursing homes is close to or greater than 100% for registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and other staff members.

When a staff member leaves and another replaces him or her, there is an erosion in the care of the senior, because the new staff member is unfamiliar with the resident as well as the practices at the facility. That can often result in a reduction in the quality of care.  Higher rates of turnover have also been linked to a more frequent use of physical restraints, greater use of antipsychotic medications to restrain residents, and also more hospitalizations of patients.

Experts believe that an increase in the minimum wage would help reduce turnover rates, and encourage staff members to work at facilities for longer periods of time.  This would help ensure a greater quality of care for vulnerable residents and hopefully a reduction in cases of neglect, abuse, and preventable death.

Nursing home residents who have suffered abuse or neglect could qualify for a claim for compensation. If your loved one has suffered injuries as a result of neglect or abuse at a nursing home, talk to an Atlanta nursing home abuse attorney at the Katz Law Firm, and determine whether he or she has rights to a claim for damages.

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