Trends and projections for the aging population in the United States
Nursing home industry has been rapidly expanding over the years due to the increased demand for the home care services for the aging population. According to the recent statistics, there has been a consistent increase in the population of the aging population. The trend indicates that this population of the elderly is expected to rise in the years to come. In 2009, the number of people aged 65 and above was estimated to be about 39.6 million people. This number is expected to rise to about 72.1 people by 2030. The improved living standards and better healthcare facilities offered in this country are some of the leading factors that have led to the increasing number of the elderly members of the society. This confirms the fact that there is an increasing demand for the services offered in this industry.
Overview of the Nursing Home Industry
Nursing home industry has experienced massive growth over the past few decades because of the increasing number of the elderly population. This industry offers a variety of services to its clients. Some of the important services include helping the elderly follow their medication, engage in physical activities, and move safely within the facility. Some of the facilities also offer specialized medical services for the eye, ear, bones, among other related problems. Other facilities have introduced legal services to help the elderly psychologically, especially those who are planning to write wills. Most of the nursing home residents are the elderly people aged 65 years and above. These facilities, care for both men and women at their advanced ages. The changes experienced over the past one decade clearly indicate that the industry is expected to experience further growth in the future.
Demographics of the Nursing Home Workforce
It is important to understand the demographical factors of the workforce in the nursing homes. Most of the nursing home workforce is aged between 20-45 years. This age group is very energetic and can meet the physical demand of the elderly population. Most of the elderly population who need nursing care is always physically weak. For this reason, they need people who can support them physically to address various issues. The physical strength of this workforce is, therefore, very important. According to Oakley (2008), it was widely believed in the past that most of the nurses were supposed to be women. However, this is no longer the case. Both men and women are making the workforce in this industry almost in equal proportion.
Religious and cultural factors are important when assigning the workforce to various homes. According to Maurer & Smith (2013), the American society is highly diversified, and it is important to appreciate that some of our beliefs and practices are clearly defined by our religious and cultural beliefs. It is easier for a nurse to work with a group of elderly people who share his or her religious and cultural beliefs. At this old age, the caregivers need to be very understanding towards those whom they are caring for in order to make the experience pleasant. It would be appropriate to assign nurses to clients who will find their practices natural.
For instance, it would not be appropriate to assign a Muslim nurse to care for a group of old Christian believers. The issue of race may not be very relevant, but it would be necessary to ensure that the caregiver can speak the language of the people receiving the care.
Occupational Hazards in Nursing Homes
The activities that nurses engage in while offering care to the elderly may expose them to a number of occupational hazards. Ergonomic hazards are very common occupational hazards that nurse face. It may manifest itself in the form of musculoskeletal disorder, pain in the neck, back or in the arms. This may be attributed to some of the physical activities that nurses have to do while caring for the elderly.
According to Oakley (2008), some of the medications that these nurses administer on the patients may expose them to chemical agents that may pose them to further danger. Although this is not very common, it is a possibility, especially when the task of administering the medications is assigned to the nurse assistants who are yet to fully understand procedures in this field. Electricity may also be a threat to these nurses. Sometimes they may need to warm food, water, some medications, or to use electricity in one way or the other. This exposes them to risks associated with the use of electricity or electric equipment.
The nurses are also at risk of trips, slips and falls when handling their duties. One of the common causes of the slips and trips are slippery flows when doing the cleaning. They use detergents that make the floor slippery. This makes it easy to trip and fall. Some of these falls cause minor injuries that can be easily ignored. However, others have massive impact that may cause serious bodily harm, especially when one falls on sharp objects.
Sometimes the nurses may be faced with the risk of burns from some of the equipment they use. According to Sherwood & Barnsteiner (2012), the burns are common in cases where the nurse has to boil some water or medication for the elderly persons they are caring for within the nursing homes. Some nurses have complained of psychological problems. In some instances, these elderly persons may have mental problems, especially those who are at advanced stages. Offering care for them can be problematic because some may be constantly complaining over various issues, or rejecting the help altogether. This makes it psychologically problematic to deal with them.
Distinction between Occupational Injury and Occupational Illness
According to Maurer & Smith (2013), illness is defined as a sickness while an injury refers to any form of physical harm caused on the body. Occupational injury, therefore, is the physical bodily harm that a nurse is subject to while handling various tasks in line with his or her duty. Example of an occupational injury may be the burns and cuts when using equipment at work. It may also be in the form of a broken or twisted arm or leg as a result of physical handling of the patients or various tools in the workplace. On the other hand, occupational illness is some of the sicknesses that a nurse may get because on inhaling some poisonous gases at workplace.
Such cases may bring excessive sneezing or even influenza to the nurses. The effect can be worse when the nurse is allergic to the gases. It may also be in the form of getting some communicable diseases such as tuberculosis from the patients.
Factors that may compromise worker health & safety in nursing homes
There are some factors that may compromise worker health and safety in nursing homes. One of the leading factors that may jeopardize health and safety of the workers is the poor working environment. When the buildings where the elderly are being taken care of are not well ventilated, the workers are at risk of contracting some of the communicable diseases (Basford & Slevin 2003). Poor structures may also increase chances of falling or being cut by broken window panels. Limited medical equipment also compromises health and security of the workers. When workers are forced to do the cleaning without gloves, or attend to some patients with communicable diseases without masks, they will be putting themselves at risk. Limited number of workers within a nursing home may also be another factor that compromises health and safety of workers because they will be overworked. This increases the chances that they may be subjected to physical harm.
Organizations that Impact Nursing Home Quality of Care
Some organizations have massive impacts on nursing home quality of care. According to Basford & Slevin (2003), the accredited bodies play a leading role in contributing to the quality of care at the nursing homes. This includes the institutions of learning where the nurses get educated. These institutions should produce graduates who understand their role in this field of nursing, and what they are expected to do in order to protect their patients and protect themselves too.
Other accredited nursing institutions that bring together professional nurses to share their new ideas in this field may also play an important role. Nurse unions may be vital in fighting for the rights of nurses. They may voice the grievances of the nurses such as poor working environment, lack of enough equipment, or overworking that puts them at risk of getting injuries or illness. Central organization of trade unions may also help in pushing for good working environment for the nurses.
Identification & Role of Agencies concerned with Health & Safety of Workers in Nursing Homes
The society has come to appreciate the complexity of the environment under which nurses’ work. For this reason, a number of agencies have been developed to take care of the interests of nurses in order to ensure that they work in an environment that do not subject them to any form of harm. The American Nurses Association is one of the largest agencies in the country that protects the interests of nurses in this country. The agency works closely with individual nurses and their union leaders to ensure that their interests are taken care of within the working environment. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses was also established to help protect nurses who work in critical care departments in various facilities. This agency has particularly been concerned of the working hours of the nurses who work at critical care units.
The National Council of Boards of Nursing is one of the largest bodies that issues license to nurses, and regulate their activities in various states within the United States. However, its jurisdiction is not only limited to licensing and regulation policies. It has a major role of developing laws and policies in this sector that would help protect health and safety of nurses while they are on duty. These laws would guide in defining the working environment for employees. Human rights bodies have also been actively engaged in protecting rights of employees at the workplace. As administrators, it is important to know that these bodies are always ready to support workers who want to sue an organization if they get physical injury at the workplace that is caused by the negligence of the employer.
Prevention & Intervention Strategies Used To Reduce or Eliminate Occupational Hazards
It is important for the concerned stakeholders to come up with prevention and intervention strategies that can be used to reduce or eliminate occupational hazards. One of the best ways of doing this is to improve the physical environment of the facility. Any broken window panes should be replaced the floors should be in a good state. There should be no hanging objects within the facility that may pose a threat to the nurses or the clients. The nursing homes should have enough healthcare facilities that should be used by the nurses. The masks and gloves are also some of the important equipment that should not be ignored in this list. The management should hire enough nurses within the nursing homes in order to eliminate cases where the workforce is strained.
Prevention & Intervention Strategies
The management of the hospitals should organize in-service and off-duty trainings for the employees to help sensitize them on how to undertake various tasks in order to reduce or eliminate some of the hazards which are self-inflicted. Some of the nurses always subject themselves to various hazards without their knowledge. Such trainings will help eliminate such cases. Using improved technologies may reduce the physical tasks that are done by the workers which in turn, will reduce their exposure to dangers associated with such tasks. Another approach that can be used to address this problem is to promote teamwork and cooperation among the workers. This would help eliminate cases skewed assignment of tasks.
Recommendations for New Nursing Home Leaders to Minimize Safety Concerns in the Workplace
As Junior Nursing Home Administrators and Administrators-in-Training, you should be ready to work in a very challenging environment where various parties expect a lot, but give very little. You must be ready to manage the increasing demands of the nurses using limited resources. It is clear from the discussion above that the issue of health and safety concern among the nurses should be addressed appropriately by the administrators. The junior administrators must find ways of ensuring that all the workers are not subjected to any form of harm when they are undertaking their duties.
In such challenging environments, there is always a massive pressure on the management unit to offer tangible solutions that would In order to be successful as administrators, it is important to plan for the finances in order to balance between developmental expenditure and recurrent expenditure. This will help improve the infrastructure that may pose a health risk to the workers. It is also necessary to ensure that workers have necessary qualification and experience before hiring them (Basford & Slevin 2003). Organizing in-service trainings may help eliminate some of the self-inflicted accidents.