Why are nursing homes chronically understaffed?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | nursing home negligence

Nursing homes house some of the most vulnerable people in our society. If you place your loved one in a nursing home, one of the very first things to do is to make sure that there will be enough staff present to care for them and others.

Unfortunately, because of the kind of work that goes into caring for nursing home residents and chronic underfunding, it is not uncommon to see nursing homes without enough staff to handle the number of residents who need care.

According to one report, most nursing homes actually have fewer nurses and caretaking staff members than they reported, which means that residents and families may have been misled into thinking that their loved ones would have more access to care than they did.

Around 1.4 million people receive care in skilled nursing facilities

With so many people needing skilled nursing care, it’s unreasonable that nursing homes are short-staffed. Looking at the data, day-to-day staffing fluctuations are common. Weekends have been found to have the fewest workers.

On the worst days, on-duty personnel may have been expected to take care of up to twice as many people as they would on a day when the staffing was at its fullest. That extra work may translate into cases of nursing home neglect.

With staffing volatility, there will be gaps in care, according to an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Even though staff levels may be low, residents still need the same standard level of care.

Short-staffing leads to serious problems. Nurses and aides who are present in the facility may find it difficult to do their own jobs on top of delivering meals, taking residents to the restroom, checking patients for bedsores and moving them regularly and making sure medications are delivered on time. It’s not uncommon to see essential tasks get missed, which may then lead to hospitalizations.

What can you do if you suspect short-staffing issues?

If you notice that there don’t seem to be many staff members present or see your loved one has an injury that was avoidable, like a bedsore, then it’s time to act. You may want to look into securing additional nursing or care support for your loved one as well as to find out more about your legal options.