To ensure optimal care, the ratio of staff to patients in nursing homes proves paramount. Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not meet their staffing benchmark for different reasons. When this happens, the residents suffer since they may receive treatments that fall below the standard of care. Some causes of understaffing in nursing homes include:
- Financial gain: Some nursing home facilities focus more on maintaining or increasing their profit margins and generating a return for the owners and investors. They may take actions that include admitting more patients during periods when they do not have an adequate number of certified nursing assistants and other caregivers.
- Insufficient funding: Sometimes, the cost of medical equipment and hiring medical professionals lead some nursing home facilities to hire few people. They may attempt to curb staff due to management’s inability to employ fully trained nurses and other staff while simultaneously investing in the facilities that keep daily operations running smoothly.
- Absence of properly trained professionals: Due to the medical community’s standard of care, nursing homes can employ only trained and licensed medical staff. At times, they may have a hard time finding the right people to provide adequate care for residents. When this happens, the existing staff have no choice but to work overtime to meet the needs of residents.
- Inadequate management: When those in charge of running the facility underestimate their responsibilities or fail to grasp the importance of staff to patient ratio, understaffing may occur. Qualified people need to run a nursing home facility since they may take actionable steps to ensure that every aspect of the residents’ care balances out.
Effects of Understaffing in Nursing Homes
According to studies from the Journal of the National Medical Association, understaffing in nursing homes can lead to:
- Neglect of residents’ needs: Most elderly adults in nursing homes remain extremely dependent on caregivers for their basic needs, including eating, bathing, moving, eating, and taking medications. An imbalance in the ratio of nurses to patients can lead to residents developing sores, infections, and even malnutrition.
- Abuse of residents: Nurses employed in a high-stress environment with limited staff are likely to be abusive to their patients. Their actions, completely unacceptable in every instance, may include increased control, isolation of patients, being verbally abusive to patients, gaslighting, hitting or kicking patients, and intentionally breaching their duty of care.
- Absence of individualized care: Understaffing makes it difficult and sometimes nearly impossible for nurses to care for their patients. With a limited staff, patients may suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident due to a lack of supervision. They may also feel depressed or have severe anxiety in the absence of attentive caregivers.
- Stress and frustration: Most nurses source motivation from their natural desire to help others. When placed in an understaffed environment, they may lack the ability to provide optimal care due to exhaustion and burnout. This can impact their health, as well as lead to frustration and cause them to act in a way that falls below their communities’ standard of care.
To ensure continuous optimal care and prevent nursing home staff from feeling frustrated and overworked, nursing home administrators must tackle the issue of and causes of understaffing. To do so, management must:
- Create space for open communication: By allowing the staff to voice out their frustrations easily, management may know how to take the right steps to ease their burdens.
- Hire the right number of professionals: Nursing home facilities must not compromise when employing people. Taking this step helps ensure that the residents receive the care they deserve.
- Invest in the right medical equipment: Where it applies, the right medical equipment can make a caregiver’s job easier and result in increased productivity and high-profit margins for the nursing home.
Consult Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for Help With Your Elderly Loved One’s Case
If you feel that your loved one’s health suffered due to understaffing in a nursing home, you may seek legal help. Our personal injury lawyers offer a free case consultation that may help you to weigh your legal options. We may explain your rights and guide you to take the right steps once you decide to seek compensation on their behalf. Call us today at (800) 842-6336 to start your free, no-obligation consultation. We work on a contingency-fee basis, so we never collect a payment unless we secure a financial award on your behalf.