Sufficient and Sufficient: Pennsylvania needs to protect older people and respect their caregivers.opinion

Sufficient and Sufficient: Pennsylvania needs to protect older people and respect their caregivers.opinion


Itta Timothy, a 27-year veteran certified nursing assistant, will discuss the steps of the Capitol on March 26, 2021 at a rally to increase staff in special nursing homes for the elderly. (Photo of Capital Star: Stephen Caruso)

By Liz Empson and Matthew Janel

All caregivers in nursing homes are aware of this golden rule. We cannot die alone.

No matter what happens in the house, the caregiver always ensures that someone is with the resident at the last moment, holding hands, comforting, and having a peaceful time as they pass by.

But that golden rule is now often broken. Over the last decade, we have been asked to do more with fewer and fewer staff, forcing us to make a choice between the needs of the dying and the needs of the living.

After that, COVID occurred, the population declined very rapidly, and sometimes they died before they knew how sick they were. Currently, staffing is paramount, so caregivers move quickly from resident to resident, bathing, changing clothes, eating, and more.

We often work in two shifts, seven days a week. The pace is desperate, exhausted and tough. It’s a race to cover the basics — you don’t have time to stop and pay attention to the emotional needs of the occupants, or to provide them with the dignity and compassion they deserve in the last few hours.

My chest seems to tear. It is unacceptable. And it needs to stop.

The Elderly Housing with Care crisis did not begin with COVID. The pandemic only revealed the long-standing flaws, failures, and weaknesses of Pennsylvania’s Elderly Housing with Care.

For decades, caregivers have warned of chronic and dangerous staff shortages and unacceptable situations for workers and residents. We managed to reduce resources and demand life-saving reforms, but the industry was increasingly focused on profits and selling domineering and wild elderly homes to irresponsible owners lowered the bar.

Opinion that Pennsylvania needs to increase staffing ratio of elderly homes to support workers and residents

Harrisburg’s elected leaders have heard countless testimonies from those at the forefront. Nevertheless, the process of achieving change has been painstakingly slow. To make matters worse, employers often hesitate to work with their caregivers on the growing challenge of caring for older people together.

Pennsylvania is one of the worst COVID long-term care facility mortality rates in the country. More than 13,000 residents of Elderly Housing with Care have died, and countless employees have become ill or killed. Thousands of caregivers across the state have taken action in the wake of the losses and tragedy of the last 12 months.

On May 25, they gathered outside the Elderly Housing with Care and put up signs stating “Protect the Elderly,” “Improving Staffing Now,” and “I’m the Resident’s spokesman.”

Their voices filled the streets from Philadelphia to Lehi, Harrisburg to Erie. Neglect and excuses cannot kill another person.

Registration for a new care facility is scheduled for fall, but staff say they can’t wait long

These 4,200 caregivers from more than 80 homes will negotiate a new union contract this year. They take responsibility for building a resident-centric long-term care industry that emphasizes care and protects the elderly.

This means updating staffing rules that experts agree to be necessary to provide quality care. That means providing a decent living wage to the caregiver. That way, they can stay at the bedside instead of making more money at a convenience store on the street.

This means transparency and accountability when selling a home for the elderly. This is a bonus that ensures that residents, workers, and the general public, whose tax covers more than 70% of the cost of elderly housing, can take care of the elderly, not the profits or CEO.

Too many people died because of greed and inaction. There is no more excuse.

The Ministry of Health must improve staffing standards in all Elderly Housing with Care in Pennsylvania, and employers must work with front-line workers to improve care and conclude strong life-saving union contracts. Must be.

Liz Empson is an associate nurse at a Harrisburg long-term care facility. Matthew Yarnell is President of SEIU Healthcare PA.

Sufficient and Sufficient: Pennsylvania needs to protect older people and respect their caregivers.opinion

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