Understaffing in nursing homes is one of the major causes of elder abuse and neglect. Experts estimate approximately 90-95% of nursing homes are not staffed adequately to care for their resident population.
Why are Nursing Homes Understaffed?
Although there are various reasons why nursing homes may be understaffed, the most prevalent is money. The cost of running a nursing home is expensive. Management may choose to push their current team harder rather than hire the correct number of nurses and support staff.
Another reason for understaffing is that a nursing home environment is stressful, and it may be difficult to keep good people. When staff turnover is an issue, existing employees may be asked to work double shifts to make up the deficit. This can lead to burnout and poor morale and eventually elder abuse and neglect. The fewer people on board, the less likely it is for new employees to be adequately trained, creating further issues.
The Dangers of Understaffed Nursing Homes
One of the most dangerous understaffing problems in nursing homes is that residents do not receive the care they require. If staff is already stretched thin, they may not prioritize moving immobile patients to prevent bedsores, infections, and other more serious medical conditions.
When staff is overworked, tired, and not well trained, they are less likely to notice a change in a resident’s health, leading to serious illness, mistakes, injuries, or even death.
Nursing home aids are supposed to monitor patients to ensure they are eating regularly, taking medication, bathing, and using the bathroom. Surveys show that almost half of all nursing home staff say they do not have the time to provide the level of care that each resident needs.
What You Can Do
Understaffing in nursing homes is a big problem. Due to state laws, a nursing home may be fined or even shut down if an investigation substantiates complaints of abuse and neglect. If you believe your loved one’s nursing home is understaffed and your family member is not getting the care they deserve, call today to find out what you can do.