For years, there have been suspicions that staffing levels at nursing homes are inadequate. But it wasn’t until 2018 that federal data was able to prove that most nursing homes nationally had far fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they reported to the government.
The data also showed changes in day-to-day staffing levels, with particularly high staff shortages on weekends. Staffing levels also varied widely during the week, when an aide at a typical nursing home might care for as few as nine residents or as many as 14.
Understaffing Can Produce Devastating Results
With an estimated 3.2 million Americans now live in nursing homes, it’s perhaps not surprising that nursing homes are encountering staffing issues. Quite simply, demand for nurses and caretaking staff is much higher than supply.
But for nursing home residents, the impact of understaffing can be devastating. When nursing homes are short-staffed, nurses and aides must scramble to deliver meals, help bedridden residents to the bathroom, and respond to calls for pain medication. As a result, essential medical tasks such as repositioning a patient to prevent bedsores can be overlooked, leading to avoidable hospitalizations.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has responded to this eye-opening data by requiring nursing homes to submit payroll records. The action is forcing nursing homes to provide evidence-based documentation of actual staffing levels. Doing so will help to ensure that nursing homes meet CMS requirements to have a registered nurse on-site for at least eight hours each day.
Still, CMS has not set a minimum resident-to-staff ratio at nursing homes. And while the new requirements direct nursing home inspectors to more thoroughly evaluate staffing levels at facilities flagged by CMS, understaffing – and the drop in the quality of care it caused – won’t go away overnight.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Staffing Problems
If you currently are considering a nursing home or have a loved one already living in a nursing facility, you can check out detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country by visiting this website.
But don’t simply rely on CMS. If you suspect a loved one may be living at an understaffed nursing home that is failing to provide proper care for them, please contact our experienced nursing home lawyers today. All consultations are free and, if we represent you or your loved one, you pay nothing unless we win. Call 800-794-0444 today.