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Are low wages contributing to nursing home neglect?

For those familiar with the expression, “You get what you pay for,” a recent report may be cause for concern. According to the data, the median wage for nursing home workers is far below the national average.

The report was prepared by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute. Among other findings, the median wage of nursing assistants in assisted living facilities and nursing homes is $11.51, compared to the national median wage of over $17 an hour. Nursing assistant wages have also declined by seven percent in the past ten years, after factoring in inflation. Almost 20 percent of nursing assistants live in households where the income is below the poverty line.

Do low nursing assistant wages translate into neglect or even nursing home abuse? Perhaps not directly, but a recent profile of one worker suggests that the underpaid industry may be overworked. Specifically, the worker explained that she frequently put in long hours and overtime in order to make more income. Yet overworked staff may not be able to consistently provide a professional level of care.

Underpaid workers may also increase worker turnover. That, in turn, may impact an employer’s decision on whether it offers training to new employees or how it responds to its employees’ workplace concerns. Employers may be reluctant to invest in workers who they perceive as a flight risk. It’s easy to see how underpaying an industry might create a negative cycle of consequences.

Unfortunately, our law firm has seen firsthand many examples of nursing home neglect and abuse caused by inadequate staffing. From unexplained injuries to bedsores, elderly residents are far too often the victims of an overworked and underpaid industry. With an attorney’s help, loved ones can launch an investigation on behalf of an elderly nursing home resident. Our attorneys will gather evidence to hold a facility accountable in a court of law. Having a facility administrator confirm staffing levels under oath, in front of a jury, can be a very persuasive catalyst for change.

Source: Think Progress, “The Workers Caring For Our Grandparents Are Paid Poverty Wages,” Bryce Covert, April 12, 2016

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