Nursing Home Residents Neglected Due to Understaffing

Posted on 03/06/19 by Dina Anderson

Love is eternal

New legislation seeks to improve nursing home quality of care; provide much-needed financial relief to family caregivers.

Across the state, older adults entrusted to nursing homes for care have been subjected to neglect, infection and other horrifying consequences – even death -- due to inadequate staffing which must be addressed, lawmakers and advocates said Tuesday.

The situation, as documented by a Chicago Tribune/Kaiser Health News investigation, has prompted the introduction of an important initiative designed to enhance nursing home residents’ quality of care.

“It has been both heartbreaking and motivating to me, through my work, to see how devastating it can be for an entire family when a loved one receives inadequate care in a nursing home,” said State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, (D-Chicago), sponsor of the Nursing Home Residents’ Quality of Care Initiative (SB 1510, SA #1).

The bill calls on legislators to abide and enforce the state’s minimum staffing requirements, heighten public transparency of nursing home violations, and enhance safeguards regarding a psychotropic medication and a resident’s right to informed consent.

“This initiative sets forth some much- needed measures to ensure that no family has to see their loved one suffer unnecessarily in a place where they are supposed to be cared for.”

In 2015, 39% of nursing homes in Illinois received a low quality rating from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. Over eight in ten (84%) voters in Illinois say that action should be taken in 2019 to increase the  quality of care in Illinois nursing homes, according to an AARP survey.

The Illinois bill comes as AARP works across the country to take action to improve the quality, safety, rights, and protections for nursing home residents and their families or improve enforcement of standards for nursing homes.

“Residents of nursing homes are some of Illinois most frail whose care needs have unfortunately adjusted their life’s path to need skilled nursing care 24 hours a day,” said Ryan Gruenenfelder, Director of Advocacy and Outreach for AARP Illinois.

“Residents and their caregivers need to be able to trust nursing homes at a time when they are more vulnerable than they have ever been.”

AARP Illinois also supports a measure aimed at easing the burden on family caregivers, who face financial challenges while paying for expensive care to help their loved ones.

The Illinois Family Caregiver Income Tax Credit (HB 2974) would provide a non-refundable tax credit up to $1,500 for eligible family caregivers who pay for adult day services, transportation, equipment, home modifications and other expenses when caring for family. The tax credit is especially needed after a recent AARP Illinois survey found that 62 percent of Illinois family caregivers pay expenses out of their own pockets to care for a loved one.

“Family caregivers in Illinois spend immeasurable amounts of energy, time and money making sure that their loved ones live comfortably in their homes, “said Rep. Anna Moeller. (D-Elgin), author of HB 2974.

“This bill offers caregivers a modest, but meaningful bit of relief that will hopefully help them to continue the selfless work they do.”

The bills directly address concerns highlighted by a Caregiving Survey conducted by AARP Illinois to address the concerns of family caregivers helping their parents, spouses and other loved ones to live at home.

“Caregivers in Illinois have told us that they are spending money out of their own pockets to provide basic needs for their loved ones, including bathing, dressing and transportation,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. “We are grateful that these legislators have recognized two impactful ways to help both older adults and their caregivers as they struggle with this already trying time.”

To view the survey, visit:



AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities.

More from AARP in Chicago

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »

Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at; additional AARP information and resources are at En español, visite

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today


  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Chicago
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner