The American health care industry is certainly undergoing a change – a change from the traditional hospital health care environment to other emerging models mainly in the form of home care, ambulatory care and day surgery. Thus, the new trend involves both nurses, doctors and other paramedical staff shifting base from or sharing base with the traditional hospital work routine. Other non-health and medical personnel are also involved in the new scenario – family members, friends, baby boomers, et al, who now play caregiver roles and health promotion and management personnel. Currently, there is an estimated number of 16,000 profit and non-profit nursing homes in the United States with about 2 million inmates as well as government owned ones.
One of the major factors responsible for the increase in the United States and other developed countries has been traced to the increasing disenchantment of nurses with the traditional hospital practice as a result of certain factors ranging from job strain and heavy schedule to lack commensurate salary and allowances which are forcing more and more nurses to quit hospital practice for other nursing environments such as home and ambulatory nursing. Another factor is the situation where most nursing professionals as well as their families are too busy with other work and businesses, and there before often have to put their relationships in the care of some older or elderly members of their families.
Another important factor for the increase in nursing homes is that many of them provide lots of the basic facilities in a traditional hospital such as gyms and other therapeutic and in-door recreational facilities. Some even have swimming pools. Other factors include the many advantages associated with home nursing among which is the sense of comfort and security of home during sickness or when one is recovering from an illness. Medical research has also suggested that home nursing can be the best option for better physical and mental well being for people with chronic diseases.
Other benefits are the sense of freedom, dignity and personalized care on the part of patients as well as a sense of independence on the part of the care-giver. Home nursing also allows family members to stay together with their sick member as regularly as they wish especially when the nursing home is close enough to their home, thus providing the sick with a lot more emotional support than in a hospital setting.
They also provide round-the-clock care and attention 24 hours day by professionals which most families can hardly be able to provide in addition to a sense of safety, security and well being of their loved one on the part of family members.
There are also disadvantages of home care, major among which is the risk of various forms of abuse including physical, sexual and financial abuse. Increasing cases of abuse by caregivers have been reported in recent years leading to the closure of many nursing homes. These abuses can take the form of verbal abuse, physical harm, sexual abuse or even death by punching or strangulation and usually triggered by anger on the part of caregivers either at the slow actions, awkwardness and clumsiness of their patients. Some cases of abuses have been infected by fellow inmates especially those of them with criminal records. In 2008 alone, it has been reported that over 37,000 abuse complaints were received out of which about 7,000 had to do with abuse and neglect of patients.
For several years, nursing home abuse has been a subject of much discussion in the United States with particular reference to the state oft California where some of the most serious cases of nursing home abuse have been recorded. Other places with high record of abuse cases include San Diego and Los Angeles. This can and have often resulted in long term or permanent physical and emotional wounds of victims. Unfortunately, many victims of abuse are physically unable to inform their loved ones of the abuse while many who have dared to do so have been threatened by the abusive staff or directed in more injuries, abuse and more pain.
Established or suspected cases of abuse can be reported to a personal injury lawyer for redress. A good number of nursing home employees have been convicted of hitting, kicking, punching, and attacking the residents for which they are hired to care and protect. Family members who suspect that their loved ones are victims should not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer right away.
There is also the issue of inadequate facilities in some nursing homes in terms of qualified and insufficient staff to meet all the basic needs of the home such as bathing and dressing of inmates and other support services like cooking, shopping, housekeeping etc. Also most nursing homes are not adequately equipped to respond to certain emergency situations which will need to be referred to hospitals.
Further, some inmates often suffer a sense of abandonment, depression, frustration and stress which can worsen their health conditions arising from the inability of family members to maintain regular contact or visit as many families are constrained by other pressures which make regular visits to their family members in nursing homes near impossible.