Falls can lead to severe injuries for older adults, and older adults typically have a harder time recovering from broken bones and similar injuries than younger people do. They are also at elevated risk for another fall after experiencing an initial fall-related injury. As a result, concern about an older adult’s risk of falling may contribute to a decision to relocate them to an assisted living facility or a nursing home.
People expect that the staff at nursing homes will protect their loved ones by providing support so that residents don’t end up falling and getting hurt. Unfortunately, it is often the conduct of those who work at nursing homes that directly contributes to a heightened risk of an older adult falling and getting hurt.
They may not respond to a resident’s needs
Those living in a nursing home likely rely on staff members for certain kinds of care. They may need help to get to the bathroom, to get dressed and to go to the dining hall for meals. Especially when it comes to pressing needs, like an urgent impulse to use the bathroom, delays in response can lead to residents doing something they know is unsafe without support.
Unfortunately, it is common for someone calling for assistance to wait for 15 minutes or even longer at a nursing home. Lengthy delays caused by understaffing or by workers intentionally ignoring specific residents can result in older adults attempting to do things on their own that they cannot safely accomplish.
Is substandard care the standard at a facility?
Obviously, neither a nursing home nor the people working there can actually control what an older adult does. However, a facility can drastically reduce the likelihood of individual adults attempting tasks on their own that are likely to lead to injury through proactively meeting residents’ needs and having enough workers on hand to provide timely care.
In a case wherein chronic understaffing and a history of unmet needs culminate in an older adult breaking a bone or suffering a brain injury, it may be necessary to hold a facility accountable for the neglect that this resident has endured. Understanding the consequences that often result from nursing home negligence, such as broken bones caused by preventable falls, can help families determine whether they need to take legal action.