Fast food, auto repair, hair cutters and hotels–in every case United States entrepreneurs and customers have embraced the What Kind of Ethical Problems Might You Face? Employee Vs. Patient Ratio. Less employees means more money, but it also means that the quality of care will decrease. When this happens in retail or fast food, it means that you might lose out on customers. When it happens in senior care or home care, it can have more serious consequences. Understaffing can lead to decreased quality of service form an over-stressed staff, a higher chance of verbal elder abuse, and patient neglect. The last two (verbal abuse and neglect) could very easily lead to a lawsuit. To make matters more complicated, there aren’t always very specific standards that tell owners what the staffing/patient ratio should be. These are the only federal standards: nursing home must have:- at least one registered nurse on duty for eight consecutive hours, seven days a week. a licensed nurse on duty twenty-four hours per day, every day of the week. the required nursing staff to provide the highest quality of care. In order to fill the gap, many states have enacted their own staffing laws. Some states require each nursing home have a staffing committee to regulate staffing needs, others have a specific nurse/patient ratio that must be met, and still others just require that the establishment report staffing levels to the public. Prospective owners not familiar with the healthcare field should familiarize themselves with their state’s standards. And even if the standards are met, continually analyze if the minimum staffing requirements lead to quality service. Healthcare Tools and Aids Long-term care unfortunately, comes with a variety of different patient needs. And some of those needs might require you to shell out a bit more money to ensure quality of care. I’m not talking a patient who demands that you supply her with a certain brand of orange juice breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of these decisions are far more serious. For example, not too long ago, the nursing franchise that my mom worked at found out one of the patients had begun to develop bed sores. (Bed sores develop when areas of the skin get too much pressure. They’re painful and can lead to serious health conditions if left untreated. Beyond the patient quality of life, they are also considered a form of elder abuse and can have major legal implications). The solution to a potentially fatal problem could have been prevented and healed by purchasing a specialized mattress that does not allow pressure to be placed on any one spot. It would have been a fifty to one hundred dollar solution, but the owner was unwilling to pay the cost. It is moments like that one that will test your ability to balance your ethically and fiscal responsibilities. Safety of Nurses and Nursing Aids By opening a health franchise, you will be entering a field that has a disturbingly high employee injury rate. According to University of Arizona’s college of nursing, “overall the health care industry’s number of work-related injuries is almost twice as high as the private industry.” Right now healthcare legislation has basic safety standards to help protect health care employees, but with the number of injuries many have tried to tighten the standards to require each health care establishment have a safety committee to keep an eye on where safety has faltered in their businesses. As a potential nursing home owner, your employees will most often be affected by injuries caused by improperly lifting heavy patients. An unsafe nursing home environment tends to be a combination of worker attitude, a lack of safety training, and a lack of safety tools. You will need to set basic safety standards and not allow employees or management to neglect to follow the standards. For example, my mom got a knee injury when she attempted to use a piece of equipment that required two employees to use because none of the employees would help each other. If safety standards were encouraged or enforced the accident would have never happened. Consider buying technology to help employees lift patients. In 2007, scientists determined the max weight a health care worker should lift is thirty-five pounds. Considering the fact that the sixty-nine percent of Americans are obese or overweight, to prevent injury to employees nursing home owners might want to invest in lift technology like a ceiling lift. To buy or not to buy the much-needed technology is up to you. As of this date, there is no federal law requiring nursing homes are outfitted with that tech. whatever side of the ethical employee safety divide you land on, just remember employee injuries will affect your fiscal bottom line. If you do decide to pursue a senior care franchise, don’t worry you won’t necessarily need to navigate the medical field alone. Finding an experienced medical staff to advise you when you’re moving into ethically dubious territory will be vital. Health care administrators who are trained to navigate the treacherous road of balancing fiscal and ethical responsibilities can be particularly helpful. More than acting as your ethical sounding board, college trained medical professionals have the knowledge to identify situations where cutting costs can have negative health implications for patients. 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