Why Are Nursing Homes Understaffed?

Why Are Nursing Homes Understaffed?

June 21, 2018 | By O'Connor Acciani & Levy
Why Are Nursing Homes Understaffed?

Many nursing homes are understaffed at such levels that they are unable to provide quality care to nursing home residents. Understaffing problems are often related to reasons connected to cost, a lack of education and a lack of having qualified staff such as registered or certified nurses and nursing assistants. Understaffing can result in patients not receiving the treatment they need and thereby sustain injuries. If your loved one suffered harm in a nursing home, it is important to contact an experienced Cincinnati nursing home abuse lawyer for help. We can answer any questions you have about pursuing a legal claim against the nursing home.

Why Facilities Are Understaffed

Some owners of nursing homes intentionally keep staffing low to increase possible profits. Understaffing allows the nursing home to cut costs of labor and benefits packages. However, understaffing increases the ratio of patients to staff members. The main reasons for understaffing are:
  • High turnover due to overstressed staff
  • Stress and emotional pressure for constant overtime and a constant need to keep working
  • A lack of available registered or certified nursing staff with adequate education and training
When the owner or manager is unable to keep staff within the nursing home, this impacts the employees’ stress. This could lead to workers leaving when the circumstances do not improve for a long period of time. A high turnover rate is detrimental to keeping the ratio at an appropriate, consistent level to care for the residents. With such high turnover, staff may not know how to properly respond to medical situations as per the facility’s policy and the residents’ requirements. It is important to hire a registered nurse or a certified nursing assistant who has an educational background in the health conditions of the elderly. Some nursing home owners are unable to plan for when the facility must hold more residents than the current numbers predict. The facility may then house a larger number of elderly or infirm than it can reasonably hold based on the staff numbers.

Dangers Of Understaffing

Understaffing often results in patients not receiving the care they need. Due to the lack of staffing, the nursing home management often stretches what staff is available as far as possible for as long as necessary. This is frequently to the detriment of residents living with health conditions or in old age who constantly need help. The two primary concerns related to understaffing at a nursing facility are negligence and abuse. Negligence occurs when:
  • A staff member purposely ignores the needs of a resident
  • Employees are so overworked that they cannot see and help each person every day
  • A nurse or other employee targets one or more residents and provides no attention or care
  • The resident does not receive basic needs such as food, water, bathing or daily medication
  • The elderly residents are left in bed without assistance and suffer bedsores and other injuries
The other primary concern with an understaffed nursing home is abuse to residents. Intentional abuse of the elderly happens when:
  • The staff verbally attacks residents
  • Employees physically harm residents
  • A registered nurse or certified assistant gives a resident the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage on purpose
  • A worker at the facility terrorizes a resident emotionally or psychologically
The elderly living within the facility may become so frightened by the staff that the individuals experiencing harm may not report the matter to anyone. It is up to his or her loved ones to discover the problem and seek legal support.

Contact An Attorney For Assistance

If you believe that your loved one has been injured due to understaffing, contact our skilled Cincinnati legal team at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy to discuss legal options that may be available. During the free consultation, we will start a case evaluation. We can help you pursue a legal claim against the nursing home and help prevent your loved one from being further harmed.