More Immigrant Caregivers in Nursing Homes, Report Says
Immigrants account for more than one-fourth of the nurses and aides in nursing homes in large cities, according to a report to be released on Thursday by AARP, the Los Angeles Times reports. The number of immigrant nurses providing long-term care at nursing homes nationwide has almost quadrupled since 1990, and the number of immigrant nurses providing long-term care at nursing homes nationwide has almost quadrupled since 1990, and the number of immigrant nursing aides has more than doubled, the report found.
However, the number of undocumented immigrants working as caregivers in nursing homes is generally thought to be relatively low because states require background checks for employees who deal with patients, according to the Times.
About 64,000 immigrant nurses and 145,000 immigrant nursing aides worked in nursing homes in 2003, the report found. According to the Times, the trend is part of a "worldwide phenomenon" in which developed countries are "turning to immigrant caregivers from the developing world."
The report said the nation's continued ability to recruit health care workers overseas will determine the quality of care available to aging baby boomers.
In addition, the report raised concerns regarding language and cultural barriers, citing research that about 12% of foreign-trained nurses report problems understanding patients and staff despite requirements that all nurses be proficient in English (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 10/20).
In other nursing home news, the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday published an editorial addressing a recent lawsuit's allegations that the state Department of Health Services does not respond to complaints regarding nursing homes within the required 10 day deadline.
According to the editorial, "The elderly and their families rely on [state] inspectors to guarantee nursing homes are providing basic care," but "budget cuts have reduced the number of inspectors by more than 100."
California "must have more" nursing home inspectors because the "complaints of attentive family members are pointless if the state will not back them up" and "the elderly without family are completely dependent on state inspectors to watch out for them," the editorial states. "As baby boomers prepare to enter the ranks of the elderly, California cannot just send them to nursing homes and hope for the best," the editorial concludes (San Jose Mercury News, 10/20).