Death Rates Higher In Nursing Homes During Good Economy

An interesting article came to my attention today. In it, a study has shown that when the ecomony is strong and jobs are plentiful, nursing home residents have much higher death rates than any other time. The study shows that staffing is directly related to resident mortality.

Loss of caregiving help is literally deadly for older folks, according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Perhaps surprisingly, death rates actually rise when the economy is stronger. In researching why this happens, the Center found that when employment rises, nursing homes lose staffers who prefer other jobs.

I’ve seen this happen for sure. People who not otherwise consider working in a nursing home, will do so during tight times. A job is a job. Money is money. It’s fairly easy to become a CNA, let’s face it. The promise of a secure job, even in tough economies is a motivator for people. There’s always a need for nurses and aides. When times lighten up and better jobs are available, many people do run, as fast as they can, from this work.

Why is that? Don’t the joys of the work keep people interested in staying in the profession? Maybe. But the pay, weekend requirements, unforgiving management style so typical to nursing homes, and the HARD PHYSICAL work are huge turn offs.

What can be done to rectify this? Not much. Pay rates are determined by funding sources; when the government is the chief source of money, pay rates are low. Working every other weekend is the norm is this line of work although some forward thinking facilities do offer a M-F option and an weekend option (2 back to back double shifts Saturday and Sunday). As far as the management style- well this CAN change IF those in charge are willing to give up some of their power to the front line staff. Few health care facilities are willing to do this though. And finally, the work itself just isn’t appealing to so many. Personal care- bathing, feeding, lifting, changing briefs– it’s a lot to do and you’re not into it, you never will be.
So all these laid off teachers and money management professionals really don’t have what it takes to work in nursing.

And who suffers? As always it’s the residents.