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Caregivers Face an Uphill Road

By Lependorf & Silverstein on January 28, 2019

Caregiving is a tough job. There are two types of caregivers: the informal caregiver, who is typically a family member and does not get paid for assisting a patient; and the formal caregiver, who is a paid professional in a facility or in-home setting.

Caregivers are susceptible to worsened health and injuries while working with potentially aggressive patients, such as memory care and special needs patients. If you’re a caregiver who has been injured on the job, call a New Jersey personal injury lawyer at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040 to discuss your case.

The Toll of Caregiving

The Family Caregiver Alliance reports, “Caregivers reporting fair or poor health increases from 14% within first year to 20% after 5 years or more of providing care. Those caring for a spouse are most likely to report fair or poor health… Caregivers who provide care for persons with dementia risk comprising their immune systems for up to 3 years after their caregiving experience ends, thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves… The physical and emotional impact of dementia caregiving resulted in an estimated $9.7 billion in healthcare costs in 2014.”

Caregiving is a tough job in itself, but an added injury can make things worse.

Dangers to Watch Out For

There are certain risks that at-home care providers face. The most common risks include:

  • Slip-and-fall accidents: A patient may spill something without the caregiver noticing, causing a dangerous situation.
  • Infections: If a patient has an infection or another communicable disease, it can spread to the caregiver.
  • Physical injuries: From muscle strains caused by helping patients get in and out of bed to assaults sustained from an agitated and aggressive patient, caregivers face a multitude of physical injuries.
  • Fatigue injuries: Many caregivers suffer “burnout,” especially if they are asked to work too many hours. Fatigue can creep in and make it easier for experienced caregivers to make mistakes and injure themselves.

Dealing with Difficult Patients

Communicating with patients who are special needs or have memory problems can be difficult and result in a lot of frustration for even the most experienced caregiver. But frustrations must be put aside as caregivers remember that aggressive patients are not doing it on purpose, but because their disease has caused major changes in their brain. Yelling, biting, kicking, or hitting are responses usually caused by fear, not because a patient is trying to be difficult.

However, nursing homes and memory care facilities have certain responsibilities to protect their staff. The best course of action is trying to identify what is making the patient aggressive. The worst thing to do is to escalate the situation or to forcibly restrain patients, unless they are an immediate threat to themselves or to others.

How To Stay Safe

To minimize the risk of sustaining an injury, it’s important for caregivers to receive proper job training so they know how to deal with aggressive patients and how to take care of themselves.

There are support groups specifically for caregivers where they can discuss their issues and get helpful advice in regard to their work situation. If you’re a caregiver, you need support too. It’s easy to feel like you constantly support others while not having anyone to lean yourself, but you’re not alone.

Who’s Responsible?

Injured caregivers have the right to receive compensation if they suffered an injury on the job. The question is, who is going to provide that compensation? Before hiring a caregiver, a nursing home should have workers’ compensation and disability insurance. This insurance should also cover you if you work through an agency to provide in-home patient care. However, you can still file a third-party claim if you feel someone else was negligent, like the patient’s family.

If you were injured while providing caregiving services, you deserve compensation. Caring for others is not an easy job, but it shouldn’t be dangerous. At-home caregivers need support and safety while doing their jobs. If an injury does occur, it’s important to speak with an attorney about your legal options. Please give Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., a call at (609) 240-0040 for a free consultation.

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Posted in: Personal Injury

The firm’s principals, Gabriel R. Lependorf and David E. Silverstein, have each been representing injured victims in the State of New Jersey for over twenty years.

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