Many vulnerable members of society, including the very sick and elderly veterans, may find themselves dependent on the services of a nursing home or other facility. However, these same people may also be able to find alternative forms of care that are much more safe and efficient. This is because the healthcare industry is experiencing a crisis that is mostly due to a lack of qualified employees to fill open positions.
The Palm Beach Post printed an article written by a physician about his experience dealing with a shortage of healthcare workers. This shortage is having an effect on the entire industry, especially VA hospitals.
Veterans affected by shortages of healthcare workers and other problems
The author began the story by recounting sporting events that begin by honoring veterans in his home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. However, this can often be one of the only highlights of their advanced years, and many veterans end up spending long periods of time dealing with problems caused by low quality care in underfunded VA hospitals and nursing homes around the country.
In two decades of working as a chief of medicine at various hospitals and homes, he would rarely see veterans get as many visits or have as many family members around them as patients receiving treatment in other centers. Such isolation is surely an additional source of stress while dealing with various other health issues. Veterans are also more likely to suffer from mental health disorders and substance abuse problems.
Aside from these social issues affecting veterans, budgetary and staffing gaps also can have significant effects on the quality of care that they receive. One problem that was highlighted was the fact that hospitals at non-profit organizations and universities can typically pay double the salary for most skilled positions that workers would receive at a VA facility. This results in shortages and a talent drain at many government-owned facilities. The author’s own facility had to close a significant number of beds for months due to nursing shortages. Primary care physicians are also in short supply, and many members of the administrative staff tend to come and go within just a few months, resulting in high turnover and disorganization.
There are even some alarming stories published in the national and local news at regular intervals about elderly people who are neglected, abused, or exploited while staying in nursing homes. The author has also noticed that visits to patients in his facilities seem to have declined over the years as gas prices increased and transportation became more expensive.
Despite these problems, there is some good news for veterans and others in the healthcare industry. A bill that was signed in 2018 and went into effect in 2019 offers veterans a choice of which facility they would like to stay in. This should create competition for funding and motivate homes to improve if they want to remain open and receive federal money. Some programs have started which allow healthcare professionals to treat veterans in a holistic way that focuses on relationships and mental well-being, in addition to traditional markers of good health. There are also thousands of job openings around the country for physicians, nurses, and aides at VA facilities, which create opportunities for people who want to start a career in healthcare.
Is there a way to avoid these problems?
Both veterans and civilians may want to look into alternative forms of care that can guarantee a higher quality service than understaffed nursing homes and facilities. Private duty nurses, home health aides, and other forms of care that do not require hospital visits have become a popular alternative that guarantees a higher level of satisfaction and convenience. These nurses and other health care professionals need to be licensed and their employer will perform background checks before they are hired, to ensure that only the best professionals are allowed to provide these sensitive services.
What services can a nurse provide in someone’s home?
When people are treated in their own homes, they can receive the same quality care as they would in a hospital or facility setting from a registered nurse or other professional healthcare worker. Transportation issues and costs are also not a concern, as these services can be provided in residential settings under the order of the patient’s primary care physician. Nurses can do things like administer medications, take blood tests, give injections and provide wound care to injured areas . It is also common for patients and their families to develop social relationships with their nurses, as they tend to see the same person on a regular basis.
Start a conversation about healthcare in your own home
To learn more about getting help from a private duty nurse or home health aide, contact First at Home. They provide In-home nursing services throughout Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties.