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Defending nursing homes from charges of emotional neglect

Providing quality care for residents in nursing homes seems to be more difficult in recent years. New York families are increasingly disappointed in the attention their loved ones receive, and legal counsel are spending more time defending nursing homes from accusations of physical and emotional neglect. One recent study shows that because of the current trend in nursing home care, the expectations placed on facilities may be too high.

The study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that the dynamic of nursing homes has shifted from long-term care to more rehabilitative services. Residents enter for short periods of time and are discharged before the nursing staff has a chance to connect on an emotional level. Residents may feel slighted, even ignored, by the staff, who are often stretched thin and overworked.

The same scenario plays out in many long-term facilities as well. When residents arrive, they and their families are frequently in the midst of a physical and emotional crisis. Unfortunately, a stressed and exhausted nursing team may not have the luxury of dealing with patients beyond the essential needs, such as dispensing medication and performing personal hygiene. Social workers are also spending so much time dealing with the paperwork of admitting and discharging patients that they have little time left to offer emotional support.

The study recommends hiring more staff to accommodate the constant flux of residents and making use of psychologists for short-term residents. However, this may not always be financially feasible. Meanwhile, defending nursing homes from charges of neglect may continue to be necessary. Having access to an experienced New York defense attorney is the first step.

Source: mcknights.com, "Why it's impossible to maintain prior levels of care quality, and what to do about it", Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., April 24, 2018

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