A hallway at Springside Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Pittsfield.
The people who run Berkshire County’s nursing homes agree with their critics that workers need better wages — and the buildings need more staff — to provide a higher quality of care.
“If [staffing] was dire before the pandemic, it’s a never-ending struggle now.”
Christopher McLaughlin, executive director, Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc.
They disagree about how to do this, however, as well as why a longstanding staffing crisis persists. Nursing home owners say they are dependent on state Medicaid reimbursements that don’t cover the cost of care. This prevents them from staffing up and hiking wages, they say.
Health care analysts, advocates for the elderly and those who work in facilities dispute that.
They say the industry could do more to compensate workers and increase staffing, but instead allocates resources to other things — including administration and salaries.
“They’re making tons of money off these elderly people who worked their whole lives,” said a former aide in a county facility who does not want their name published for fear of retaliation as they continue to work in the industry. “And they work these [aides] to death and neglect the residents.”
A staffer at another Berkshire nursing home said the company is two years behind in cost-of-living wage increases. “It’s very thankless work,” they said. “It’s a hard job, the hours are demanding, and you’re dealing with people who are suffering.”
It is also “sacred work,” said Christopher McLaughlin, executive director of Elder Services of Berkshire County, whose volunteer ombudspeople advocate for residents. McLaughlin, who used to run nursing homes, said CNAs need better pay. He also understands the travails facing administrators as they look for workers.
“If [staffing] was dire before the pandemic, it’s a never-ending struggle now,” McLaughlin said.
It is those in the care of nursing homes who pay the highest price, an Eagle investigation found.
EAGLE INVESTIGATIONS: Poor staffing ratios have festered for more than a decade in the majority of Berkshire County nursing facilities, and continue today. Our investigation puts faces to those numbers.
The newspaper analyzed federal …….