Last week, the mayor of Miami made the opening remarks for a panel titled “Facing Miami’s Senior Care Crisis,” which was attended by a large number of nursing home caregivers who say they are not able to properly care for their patients because of understaffing and frightfully low wages.
The Miami Herald reports that Mayor Tomás Regalado told the crowd that many of the residents of our state’s nursing homes are the men and women who brought Florida to greatness in previous decades, “the people who made it possible for us to be who we are.” He also said that these individuals deserve much better care than they currently have access to and that many are too frail or ill to demand the care themselves.
The panel, referred to as “part pep rally for beleaguered caregivers who say staffing patterns rarely allow them to spend adequate time with their patients,” was organized by the SEIU United Healthcare Workers Union. This union represents a large number of the healthcare workers in the nation and has been a vocal participant in the fight for a standard minimum wage of $15 per hour for healthcare workers.
According to the Herald, Florida’s nursing homes are in serious trouble and frequently fail to properly care for residents, though relatives of residents are often painfully unaware of this. One in five of the nursing homes in Florida are on a state watch list for “marginal facilities,” and one in three of the homes in Miami-Dade fall into this category. Only last year, 50 homes were added to this watch list.
As Miami nursing home lawyers, we understand these issues intimately – especially as we’ve worked with too many injured victims and their family member by representing them after accidents or proven abuse in nursing homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities and other senior care communities.
While families of nursing home residents who receive sub-standard care are often all-too-eager to blame the hourly staff of the nursing home for negligence, what they may not realize is that the staff are just as frustrated with the situation.
Marie Cadet, who has worked in nursing homes for 19 years, says that many of her patients simply want a little personal attention and kindness from her. “They ask you to speak with them,” she said. “I don’t have time for that.” She also stated that understaffing is the source of this issue, “We need more people on the floor, working hard.” Unfortunately, low wages often mean that nursing homes are woefully understaffed, and that employees must often work long hours and see as many patients as possible during their shifts. This means that it is virtually impossible for them to care for residents in a proper manner.
Max Rothman, head of the Alliance for Aging in Miami, says that the state has been aware of serious elder care issues since at least the 1980s, but little has changed since then. He says that the state “needs vigorous and continuing efforts in oversight” to improve elder care and hold facilities to higher standards. Mayor Regalado agrees, and says that part of the problem is that cities and counties are currently not authorized to police nursing homes and other live-in care facilities. “This issue is so important,” Regalado said. “We have to ask the Legislature to hold the (nursing home) agencies that treat these people accountable.”
While lawmakers and advocates are fighting to enact legislation to improve the quality of care in Florida nursing homes, this may come too late for many elderly residents who need better care now. If you believe that your loved one is not getting proper care or is being neglected in a nursing home, take immediate action to ensure their safety.
An experienced Florida nursing home lawyer can help you make sure your loved one gets the best care and that any and all negligent parties are held accountable. Please contact us today for a free legal consultation. Call (305) 670-0101 today for more information.