Nursing home neglect can happen at any time and at any nursing home, but it’s most likely to occur at facilities that are short on staff. Understaffing and unqualified staffing in nursing homes put elderly residents at risk of neglect and abuse. Nursing home regulations are put in place by the federal government to protect helpless residents from neglect and abuse, however, inadequate staffing has been the cause of multiple tragedies, including medical errors, deadly falls, and bedsores.
The better-trained the staff is at a nursing home, the better the care a loved one receives. Unfortunately, some nursing home facilities place their motive for profit over the safety and care of their residents. When this happens, staff cuts become a way of saving money. The tradeoff is a lower level and quality of care for residents. A caregiver shortage forces staff to prioritize certain duties over others. This often means overlooking responsibilities like preventing infection, controlling accident hazards, maintaining sanitary conditions and improving resident well-being.
Overtime, which is considered to be a benefit by many staff members and nurses, can contribute to added stress levels on the part of the remaining staff members who are working longer and longer hours. When staff face burnout, they quit or move onto higher-paying jobs in hospitals. The high turnover rate in nursing homes causes an urgency to recruit new employees. Unqualified staff may be hired even if they don’t have the required training or experience.
For those with loved ones in nursing home facilities, vigilance is key. A nursing home resident often needs an advocate. Being the eyes and ears of the resident will go a long way in preventing neglect. The best way to prevent neglect is to stay alert for signs of a short-staffed facility. Some of the warning signs are:
- A decline in hygiene.
- Missed medication doses and outright medication administration errors.
- Missed meals.
- Injuries, such as bedsores (pressure ulcers) and falls.
If you feel that your loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect as a result of understaffing, you may need to talk to an attorney to see if anything can be done to rectify the problem. At BCCN, we have extensive experience representing individuals who have been severely injured as a result of medical malpractice. Contact us today for a free consultation.