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Nursing home care: Illinois needs better staffing

If you place a loved one in a nursing home, you may not understand how neglect could ever be a problem. With several staff members, at least one or two people would have time to care for your loved one, surely. Unfortunately, that's not always the case, particularly in situations where an elder is difficult to handle.

Neglect at nursing homes can lead to deaths and serious injuries, yet many are understaffed. It's common knowledge that many corporate nursing homes face chronic shortages of staff, which means that the residents in those facilities have a higher risk of suffering from injuries or worse.

Illinois state Sen. Jacqueline Collins has sponsored a bill called the Nursing Home Residents' Quality Care Initiative. The bill's purpose is to fine those facilities that do not maintain proper staff numbers. It also encourages a reduction in the use of psychotropic drugs and would ask for increased transparency for the public in terms of past violations that nursing homes had received. With those changes, it's believed that many of the injuries and deaths seen each year could be completely avoided.

Illinois' nursing homes are among the worst in the nation when it comes to patient-to-staff care ratios, which means that your loved one may go many hours without seeing a staff member only because there is no one there to help them.

Before you choose a nursing home, make knowing the staff numbers a priority. Only by knowing this can you tell if there are enough staff members to handle the number of patients they're caring for.

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