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Senior care staffing shortage could hurt the quality of care

While the Texas population has surged recently, the number of nursing graduates has not kept pace with this growth. According to the Texas Health Care Association, the turnover rate for nurses coupled with the of lack available staff means nursing homes are suffering from a shortage of staff that is at crisis level. Skilled Nursing News states there is a 97 percent rate of turnover for certified nursing assistants and a 90 percent turnover for other important caregiver positions.

Texas nursing homes provide care for more than 92,000 people daily. A shortage of staff has lead the Texas long term care industry to fall below national averages in terms of survey, quality, and staffing measurements. For elderly patients, the consequences can be serious.

The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies found higher turnover can lead to losing even more staff, particularly experienced staff, and this leads to potentially increased workloads for those that remain. An increased workload usually means less time spent with individual patients.

Quality care also includes nursing home staff’s ability to understand and anticipate the needs of patients that suffer from complex disease like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. In a 24-hour care environment, staff should monitor elderly patients closely, so they can observe any changes that could signal an emerging problem. Lack of staffing hurts the ability to provide such care.

Part of the industry’s woes are likely due to Texas having the second-lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the U.S. The reimbursement rate is how much the state will reimburse care facilities for services rendered to patients with Medicaid. The rate in Texas is $143.48 as compared to the highest in the country, which is Alaska with a rate of $435.64. States with higher rates typically see more nursing hours spent with each patient daily. Some research even suggests higher reimbursements can cut down on rehospitalizations.

These nursing shortages, high turnover, and low Medicaid reimbursement may hurt elderly patients in Texas. These vulnerable residents rely on long-term staff to monitor their ailments and provide specialized care.

If you think your loved one is not receiving proper care at a long-term facility, you should first try to address it with a staff member, probably his or her primary caregiver. If that does not resolve it, you can reach out to the nursing home administrator or even your state’s long-term care ombudsmen. In cases of elder abuse, you may need to reach out to the police department.

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