Understaffing and overworking of available staff are two major challenges facing nursing homes across the United States. They can lead to worker exhaustion and fatigue, both of which can lead to a slew of issues, ranging from distraction and administrative errors to patient neglect, lapses in care, and aggravated workers. Simply put, overworking and understaffing can lead to elder abuse.
Roughly nine in 10 nursing homes are understaffed, and a failure to provide appropriate staff to fulfill residents’ requests for food is a growing issue of concern, alongside other risks identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and more.
The families of patients who have noticed any of these issues are encouraged to speak up to stop this abuse or neglect. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help. Call (800) 842-6336 if you suspect nursing home neglect.
Why Nursing Homes Are Understaffed
There are three basic reasons why so many nursing homes are understaffed. The first is that the costs of specialized staff needed to care for elderly patients can be very high.
Many elderly patients have very specific health needs, and some require more monitoring, supervision, and assistance than others. To bypass the issue of high labor costs, a nursing home may simply try to stretch their existing staff as much as possible instead of hiring new employees.
Second, nursing is a high-stress job, and not everyone can take the anxiety of elder care, so worker turnover is high.
Finally, because of their location, many small or rural towns may not have dedicated nursing home and elder care facilities. People may have to admit their loved ones in larger cities where issues of overcrowding and underfunding exacerbate an already bad situation.
The combination of understaffing, overworking, and exhaustion can make it difficult for patients to get the care and attention they need when they need it. A caretaker may miss a dosage of an important medication or miss signs of depression, anxiety, or weight loss, all of which can indicate more serious underlying health issues. However, a nursing home may harm its residents daily if it is guilty of a failure to provide appropriate staff to fulfill residents’ requests for food.
A Lack of Staff and Poor Health Outcomes
The effects of understaffing are clear. Without the specialized caretakers needed to cater to the needs of its residents, patients will suffer. Caretaker mistakes can also lead to injuries, not to mention pain and death. Patients who are the most in need of care and attention or are immobile are at the highest risk of not getting the food or other services they rely on the nursing home for.
Food and Care Services at Nursing Homes
The main reason people admit their elderly loved ones in nursing homes is that they are unable to provide them with adequate care, supervision, assistance, and monitoring.
However, if a nursing home is understaffed and is unable to provide these services, that may constitute a breach of trust. Furthermore, if it can be proven that a nursing home was negligent in the execution of its duties and responsibilities towards caring for its residents, and your loved one suffered injuries, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim against it.
Consider the following examples.
- A nursing home resident is immobile, but the staff does not check up on them to see if they need anything.
- During mealtimes, a resident needs assistance with breaking up food or with feeding, but no one is available to help.
- A patient takes medications at certain times that clash with fixed meal times and misses a meal but cannot contact anyone for food outside mealtimes.
- A patient’s medication causes severe hunger or requires the patient to take the medicines along with food, but no one is around to provide food.
- Food is provided but is very delayed.
These are all examples of nursing home neglect. In many cases, they can be linked to overworked or unavailable staff, in which case, it may be easy to establish a link between resident health issues and the nursing home’s failure to provide appropriate staff to fulfill resident’s requests for food. However, there can be other causes of these issues, including:
- A lack of training.
- A lack of worker empathy.
- A lack of established processes and feedback systems.
- Neglect and abuse.
These are all worrying circumstances, and they are all too common. According to the World Health Organization, one in six elderly individuals suffers some form of abuse in a community setting.
Legal guidance may be able to help you if your loved one suffers from any of these conditions. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can assist you. Please call us at (800) 842-6336 for a no-obligation consultation. We charge no fees unless you win your case, so get in touch today for a free case assessment.