Older adults who move into nursing homes are often dependent on those who work there to meet their basic needs. They may require staff support to get dressed or go to the bathroom. They may need a reminder to take their medication or help getting down to the dining facility.
Unfortunately, when a need arises, they have to push a button or turn on a call sign. They might then end up waiting for 10 minutes, 20 minutes or even an hour in some cases. The sad fact of the situation is that there never seems to be enough staff on hand at nursing homes given the level of support that residents need. People may end up having bathroom accidents or falling because they can’t wait any longer.
Why is understaffing such a persistent issue at nursing homes?
Staffing costs cut into profit margins
The primary objective of most nursing homes is to provide care as cheaply as possible. They rely on Medicaid benefits in many cases cover patient costs and will seek to cut costs wherever possible. Roughly 70% of all nursing homes in the United States are run by for-profit companies. About 58% of all nursing homes are under the control of large corporate chains. Of the remaining minority of facilities, about 24% are run as not-for-profit businesses and 7% are owned by the government.
The profit incentive means that neither the residents nor the employees receive the consideration and support they require to truly thrive. Often, the workers at nursing homes do not earn competitive wages. They may also struggle to get a full 40 hours because the company will try to schedule as few workers as it possibly can without violating the law or may end up working overtime when others quit with little notice.
It is inevitably patient care, comfort and safety that suffer for the profits of those invested in the businesses that operate nursing homes. Families upset by how understaffing may have harmed their loved ones often have few options for recourse other than taking legal action. Filing a nursing home negligence lawsuit may be one of the only ways to hold a facility accountable and force it to change the practices that endanger its residents.