Nursing homes are considered to be the fastest-growing part of the health-care industry. This is due to the fact that people are now living longer. The Census Bureau says that 40 years from now there will be 70 million over age 65. Nine million of those will be over age 85, and that’s approximately three times the amount of people over the age of 85 as we have today. That’s plenty of new jobs for nursing assistants, which will mean a greater need for nursing home workers compensation (WC) insurance.
In addition, many hospitals are shortening the length of a hospital stay for many patients because of changes in medical procedures, a lack of money, or less availability of beds. Medicare also limits the number of hospital days that it will pay for as well.
Increased residency could result in more WC claims
With many elderly hospital patients too sick to go home and unable to afford a long stay in a hospital, nursing homes are the viable solution. Some nursing home industry studies estimate that 10 to 20 percent of acute-care hospital patients can be moved out of hospitals and into nursing homes that can provide some of the care found in hospitals, but at a lower cost. This is referred to as “sub-acute care.”
With these sub-acute patients becoming nursing home residents this results in changes in the amount of work that will be done by nursing assistants in nursing homes. This new group of elderly residents is worth up to $10 billion in new money for the nursing home industry, but will likely add additional strain to the backs of those staff members whose primary job is lifting these patients in and out of bed.
Nursing assistants do nearly all of the lifting, transferring, and heavy work in a nursing home. One out of every four injuries in general are due to back sprain and strain. Yet back and shoulder injuries are responsible for 54 percent of all injuries and illnesses among nursing assistants. The number of back injuries has gone up among nursing assistants over the last 10 years.
In addition, high staff turnover is a big problem for those in the nursing home industry. Many nursing assistants quit before their first year is up, and when the staff turnover is high, patient care is affected. There unfortunately are fewer experienced and well-trained staff members, which results in more injuries and nursing home workers compensation claims.