Many cases of elder abuse or neglect stem from understaffing. Some nursing homes have an unbalanced ratio of staff members to residents, yet they keep admitting more.
Here is what to know about this matter:
Causes of understaffing
Some causes of understaffing in nursing homes are intentional. For example, some facilities hire fewer staff members to save money. They prioritize cutting labor costs over providing quality care to residents.
Additionally, when existing nurses and other staff members are overscheduled due to lower numbers, they may end up being overwhelmed and, in turn, leave the facility for another with better working conditions or another career (staff turnover), worsening the issue.
Some nursing homes encourage employees to work overtime to cover shifts that would otherwise be understaffed. Even though the employees make overtime money doing this, it can lead to fatigue, as one may work for unreasonable hours. Over time, this may result in staff turnover.
Effects of understaffing
Elders require help with their personal and medical needs. If an employee cares for different residents, these needs may not be met competently. For example, if a resident with mobility issues is not turned in bed frequently because a staff member has to take care of others, the resident is likely to develop bedsores.
Further, a significant percentage of nursing home falls occur due to understaffing. If a resident needs help moving around, perhaps climbing down the stairs, but no staff member is available, they may be forced to do so without help, increasing the chances of falling.
Understaffing can also lead to medical errors. A nurse handling several residents may give one the wrong medication or forget to give it to them.
If you or your loved one has experienced nursing home abuse/neglect, consider legal guidance to learn more about your options.