If you have a loved one living in a nursing home or continuing care center, you probably performed your due diligence in terms of checking out the home and its staff to make sure the environment is safe, comfortable and enjoyable. You cannot always get the complete picture just by reading online reviews or touring a facility, however. A serious problem affecting many of these facilities is understaffing.
Why understaffing occurs
Per Nursinghomeabuseguide.org, as many as 95 percent of American nursing homes lack sufficient staff. This may be due in part to the rough demands of what is often a low-paying job. The long and odd hours professionals in these roles often must work may, too, play a role in understaffing. Labor is also quite expensive at most nursing homes, and some workers may feel they are doing the work of multiple people without receiving proper compensation.
Consequences of understaffing
When nursing home staff members are stretched thin, it may affect your loved one the most. A staff shortage means there are less hands free to feed, clothe, medicate and entertain residents. This can be especially problematic for those with limited capabilities of their own, as it may mean fewer trips to the bathroom, less movement to prevent bedsores and so on.
Staff members who are overworked are also more likely to resent their jobs, and possibly your loved one and other residents, too. Workers may simply be exhausted and short-tempered, which can lead to impatience or lashing out, or they may hold genuine aggression related to the shortage of staff members and may physically or verbally abuse residents because of this anger.
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse or neglect in a nursing home environment because of understaffing or another issue, consider getting in touch with an attorney to discuss your concerns.