Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Understaffing in nursing homes is one of the contributing factors of nursing home neglect, and it has serious ramifications. It can lead to major health complications and a reduced quality of life. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) report, up to 90 percent of nursing homes are understaffed, reports The New York Times. Cost is a major reason why long-term care facilities have too few workers, but better resource and staff management in facilities could curtail understaffing-related nursing home neglect greatly.

The Consequences of Understaffing

The government recommends that patients spend a minimum of two hours a day with a nursing aide and 12 minutes a day with a registered nurse. The DDHS report concludes that nursing homes fall short of these standards by 54 percent and 69 percent, respectively.

Understaffing inevitably leads to neglect. When facilities have too few workers, the patients don’t get the time and attention they need, their medical issues may go unnoticed, and their psychological and emotional health deteriorates. Below are some of the ramifications of understaffing.

  • Immobility-related harm – Because patients depend upon staff to move them around, patients can develop bed sores, muscle atrophy and skin infections when the facility is understaffed.
  • Unmet needs – In understaffed nursing homes, patients’ physical, grooming and emotional needs go unmet. Their medicine may not be administered on schedule, and they can suffer serious side effects. They may not be fed and groomed adequately, and they can become malnourished and dehydrated.
  • Abuse – Understaffing means a high workload for the whole nursing home staff. This leads to high levels of stress and causes aides to lose their tempers and treat residents harshly. Staff may wind up force-feeding residents, yelling at them or physically assaulting them.

Is your loved one at an understaffed facility?

The University of California reports that the recommended staff-to-resident ratio is as follows: one caregiver to five residents during the day, one to 10 in the evenings, and one to 15 at night. Residents need about 4.5 hours of direct care per day.

Many facilities fall far short of these basic requirements. If you are looking for a nursing home for your loved one, you will want to check out their reviews and any online reports about the facility. You can visit the Medicare website for reports on many facilities around the nation. Visit each prospective facility, interview management, tour the grounds and ask lots of questions. If you suspect the staff, facility or their practices are subpar, look for a different home.

If your loved one is already in a nursing home, and you notice a change in his/her behavior (depression, avoiding contact, disinterest, anxiety, etc.), bed sores, or declining health, then something may be amiss. Your gut instinct is also a good indicator; if you suspect something is wrong, it probably is. Inform management of your concerns, and consider taking your loved one to a different facility. If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can report it to the Adult Protective Services.

What can you do if your loved one has been harmed in a nursing home?

If your loved one was harmed or died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you have the legal means to hold the facility liable for damages. You will want to speak to a nursing home neglect attorney to review your case and determine if you have a viable claim.

Our firm handles cases of this nature and will be happy to meet with you to answer your questions, free of charge. We stand determinedly against the poor treatment of the elderly and have fought diligently to recover thousands of dollars on their and their families’ behalf. Call Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC at 844-920-2438 and schedule a consultation.