3 reasons for the chronic staffing issues at many nursing homes

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | nursing home negligence

Nursing homes provide crucial services for vulnerable adults who cannot meet all of their own needs. Even loving families sometimes realize that they cannot offer the support someone requires later in life. They turn to nursing homes and other assisted living facilities as a way to meet someone’s needs. There are dozens of such institutions across Wyoming, each of which has unique practices and facilities. However, certain issues are consistent regardless of the nursing home facility in question. For example, understaffing is one of the most common issues affecting the quality of life and safety of residents in nursing homes.

Recent research indicates that roughly two-thirds of nursing homes in the state do not have an adequate number of workers on hand at any given time to meet the needs of residents. Why are so many nursing homes understaffed?

Financial pressure from shareholders

A large percentage of nursing homes are operated as part of a for-profit business. Therefore, there is an expectation that these nursing homes generate revenue for shareholders. That pressure to make as much money as possible often leads to intentionally understaffing the facility. Nursing homes often minimize how many workers they have on hand to keep operational costs as low as possible.

Poor compensation packages

Another reason that it is very difficult for nursing homes to provide adequate support to residents is that the workers they do have on staff may not receive competitive wages. Often, workers at nursing homes may only receive minimum wage or just above it. Even those who have been with the company for years may receive minimal benefits and low wages. It is therefore a very unattractive profession, and nursing homes may struggle to fill vacancies because of how they treat workers.

Worker injury and burnout

There are many people who want to provide a quality standard of life for aging and vulnerable adults even though the compensation isn’t adequate. Despite their good intentions, those workers may find themselves incapable of continuing their careers. The physical damage generated by providing regular patient care can affect someone’s ability to continue their employment. The mental toll of being accountable for the needs of many vulnerable people can also lead to psychological burnout. When workers quit or take an extended leave of absence due to health challenges, it may be all but impossible for the facility to replace them in a timely manner.

These factors all contribute to the understaffing crisis at modern Wyoming nursing homes. While there may be an explanation for this phenomenon, these issues do not eliminate the legal responsibility the facility may have when understaffing leads to negligence and then negative medical consequences for residents. Pursuing legal action after a loved one’s injury or unnecessary illness in a nursing home could lead to compensation. Those who take legal action could potentially change how a nursing home – understaffed or not – treats residents and employees.