Many people living in New Mexico have loved ones living in nursing homes. Because the elderly are often quite vulnerable, a high level of trust must exist between nursing homes, their residents and the residents’ families. Sadly, that trust can be breached, and it appears as though breaches of trust are more likely to occur in for-profit nursing homes.

A recent study published in Gerontology points to evidence that residents in for-profit facilities in Illinois were more likely to suffer neglect, including medication mismanagement, bedsores and severe dehydration. In addition, the study authors believe that neglect in for-profit institutions has been generally underestimated.

The reason why for-profit institutions are more likely to have a poor standard of care may be tied to compensation. Salaries for upper-level administration is often higher than that offered in nonprofit nursing homes. As a result, there is less money to pay for employees who provide day-to-day patient care.

Low pay for patient caregivers can result in less competent care. Those employees with the skills and ability to provide quality care may quickly depart their jobs at for-profit facilities once they find higher-paying positions. Low pay can result in staff shortages as well as poor employee morale. All can affect the quality of care that nursing home residents receive.

None of this, however, excuses nursing home neglect. In addition to reporting suspicions of neglect to appropriate state agencies, victims and their loved ones may benefit from speaking with experienced legal counsel. A lawyer may be able to review circumstances of neglect and make recommendations about possible legal remedies, including litigation.