By 2030, experts predict that three million people will need nursing home care. For decades, poor nursing home care has been a national concern. While each state has established statutes to protect this vulnerable population, the federal government has implemented several initiatives, such as grants, to help fight elder abuse. Fortunately, the state of Connecticut will soon be one of the grant recipients.
Last month, Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell announced that the state is expected is to receive $2 million in federal funding to fight nursing home abuse. Five other states including Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Missouri and Rhode Island are expected to receive grants as well.
Awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a total of $14 million health care reform grants will be made.
These health care reform grants have two conditions. First, states must use the funds to evaluate if nursing home facilities will be able to adequately screen potential employees, for prior criminal charges or other information that may disqualify them to work with the elderly. Second, state must utilize the funds to improve nursing home candidate selections that reduce risks for patient or client abuse. Each state has two years to create their programs, as well as identify unfit nursing home and other long-term care workers.
Six million cases of elder abuse are reported each year. In Connecticut, 73,000 cases are reported annually. While many elder abuse prevention advocates support the CMS funding initiative, others express concern over potential flaws in the system. Many states realize that many elder abuse investigations are unsubstantiated due to lack of evidence or other cases of abuse go unreported. In order for a new system to be affective, these realities must be considered.
As baby boomers age, more and more of our nation’s population will need long-term nursing home care. Aggressive efforts to tackle elder abuse are needed in order to reduce the victimization of seniors. Evaluating hiring practices of nursing home employees may be the best first step to prevent elder abuse in this country.