If you have ever faced the monumentally difficult decision of whether to place your parent or loved one in a nursing home or continuing care facility, you are probably aware of just how emotionally taxing such a transition can be. You are used to your parents protecting and looking out for you, and when the roles reverse, it can be difficult on everyone. To ease the strain, you want to do your due diligence when selecting a new residence for your loved one, but regrettably, today’s nursing homes often face staffing issues that contribute to far greater problems. According to NursingHomeAbuseGuide.org, an astounding 90 percent of modern nursing homes are understaffed.

Why nursing homes are understaffed

Part of the nursing home understaffing problem is likely due to the pressures and nature of the job. Some medical professionals find continuing care environments highly stressful, and they therefore prefer to work in more typical medical office or hospital environments. Also at issue is the high cost of labor in such facilities. To avoid the expense of having to employ registered nurses and other licensed medical professionals, many facilities try to utilize existing staff members by having them serve double-duty, even if they are not necessarily trained in certain aspects of the job. Additionally, many workers in these facilities must work nights, weekends and overtime for what is often nominal pay, which is yet another reason many medical professionals tend to avoid taking on this type of work.

Risks associated with understaffed facilities

When nursing homes are understaffed, those who are on the workforce often must pick up the slack. This has the potential to lead to exhaustion, frustration and bitterness, which can manifest itself in abuse or neglect of patients. Additionally, understaffing can lead to unintentional errors simply because staff members have too much going on and not enough time to give each patient the attention and proper care he or she deserves. Exhaustion can lead to errors, and it can also lead a typically astute medical professional to miss key signs of illness or injury that he or she otherwise would probably recognize. Residents, too, suffer when homes are understaffed because there may simply not be enough bodies to help residents with day-to-day needs, such as going to the bathroom, changing sheets or repositioning patients to avoid the development of bedsores. Not being able to address these needs promptly can cause infections and related medical problems.

Understaffing at nursing homes and nursing home abuse and neglect are directly correlated. If you suspect a loved one is experiencing abuse or neglect at a residential care facility, consider calling in the aid of an attorney.