The Impacts of Understaffed Nursing Homes | Sacramento Elder Law Attorneys

If your aging loved one lives in a nursing home, your family undoubtedly made that decision because it felt like the safest place for that person to be. In principle, nursing homes should be places that are equipped in every way possible to provide a high standard of care for some of the most vulnerable members of society. 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. One of the main reasons that residents of nursing homes find that their experience falls short of their expectations is that the facilities do not have enough staff members to properly look after the people in their care. In fact, understaffing in nursing homes creates an increased risk that elderly residents will be the victims of neglect or even abuse.

The Importance of the Resident-to-Staff Ratio

Studies have shown that the proper ratio of staff to residents can increase the quality of care in a nursing home. A good resident-to-staff ratio is also associated with improved health among residents.

Understaffing, on the other hand, reduces the standard of care. It also puts residents at risk of many negative consequences, such as deadly falls, bedsores, and medical errors. This is because when there is a shortage of caregivers in a nursing home, the staff must prioritize certain duties. Without enough people to carry out the work that is necessary, other duties are overlooked. Duties that are delayed or missed altogether can include infection prevention, hazard mitigation, sanitation, and addressing residents’ mental health concerns.

Medicare does not currently require a minimum resident-to-staff ratio for nursing homes. This means that many facilities were already understaffed, and the Covid-19 pandemic made these types of problems even worse

Nursing Home Staff Burnout

When nursing home caregivers work for long periods of time in an understaffed workplace, their inability to provide the care their patients need can easily become a significant source of stress. This leads some staff members to experience a sense of frustration and bitterness that they can end up taking out on the residents. As a result, many elderly patients become the targets of verbal or physical abuse.

Staff burnout also often prompts nursing home caregivers to move on to jobs where they won’t experience such a high level of stress. This creates even more shortages in the facilities they leave behind, which often encourages the employer to hire staff members who may not have the proper training or qualifications to do the job. Needless to say, unqualified staff members can put vulnerable residents at even greater risk of neglect or abuse.

Contact a Sacramento Elder Law Attorney Today

While the constant need to find new staff is an ongoing issue for nursing home facilities, hiring people who are unqualified to provide care in a nursing home is illegal. Furthermore, any form of abuse toward nursing home residents is unacceptable in the eyes of the law. If you suspect that your loved one has suffered due to understaffing or unqualified staff in a nursing home, contact an attorney with experience in elder law today. They will work with you to explore your options, or possibly help you secure home health care until you can find a new facility that can meet your loved one’s needs.  For help getting started, contact us at (800) 244-8814.

If you have any further questions about asset protection planning and strategies to shield your wealth, or if you’d like to have your current asset protection plan reviewed to make sure it still meets your needs, please contact us at our California asset protection office at 800-244-8814 to set up a consultation.

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