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How Do Nursing Homes Handle Understaffing?

Published on Oct 28, 2019 at 3:47 pm in Nursing Home Abuse.

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Discussing long-term care options with your loved one can be difficult. When round-the-clock, professional care becomes a necessity, you’ll want to choose the best facility for your loved one to reside in. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes provide the quality of care their residents deserve. In fact, a staggering number of nursing homes in the United States are severely understaffed. As a result, residents are forced to live in unsanitary and depressing conditions.

When a resident is abused or neglected in Missouri, family members can file a personal injury claim on their behalf to seek compensation for losses and hold the negligent facility accountable. If you find yourself in a situation like that, getting in touch with an attorney is your best chance at seeking justice.

In order to ensure your loved one is receiving the care they deserve in their long-term care facility, it’s important to understand why understaffing is so common, what can happen when it’s an issue, and what can be done to ensure that every resident is allowed to thrive physically, emotionally, and socially.

Why Is Understaffing in Nursing Homes so Common?

There are a number of reasons why nursing home understaffing is so common, but none of them are excusable. With a few proactive measures, nursing homes could increase their staff numbers and improve resident care. The following are the most common reasons nursing home are understaffed:

    • High Turnover Rate. Working in a nursing home can be taxing physically and emotionally. When you add understaffing to that, the effects are even worse. As a result, many facilities see high turnover rates. Individuals with the required training are more likely to work in a hospital.
    • Rural Locations. Many nursing homes in rural areas are unable to find qualified medical professionals to work at their facilities.
    • Excessive Overtime. Because of understaffing, nursing home employees are often asked to work long hours. Without a break or time off, burnout is a real possibility.
    • Lack of Regulation. While Medicare has taken steps to improve the understaffing issue, a minimum resident-to-staff ratio does not exist. The presence of a registered nurse is only required for eight hours per day.
    • Profit. Negligent nursing homes are more likely to refrain from hiring more employees in order to improve their bottom line. If they believe residents are being adequately taken care of, even if they’re not, they’ll skip the hiring process and make their employees work more.

    As a result of understaffing, residents may suffer from neglect. They may not receive the help they need with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. Others with bedbound conditions may be left alone for long periods of time and could develop bedsores. Unfortunately, most facilities fail to take action to handle understaffing.

    What Can Be Done About Understaffing in Nursing Facilities?

    In late 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced plans to adequately staff nursing homes around the country. Their actions include providing facilities with census tools, sharing data among states when staffing issues arise, and clarifying how nursing homes should report hours.

    Addressing understaffing came about after their research showed the ratio of nurses to residents impacts the quality of care the seniors receive. For example, facilities with higher nurse staffing levels have fewer resident hospitalizations.

    As state and federal initiatives try to improve the understaffing crisis, there is a system in place that gives you the ability to screen nursing homes for staffing. Medicare offers a Nursing Home Compare tool. You can search for facilities in your area and view ratings for health inspections, quality measure, distance, and staffing. Ratings are provided with stars that designate from much below average to much above average. If you choose a facility for your loved one with a high staffing rating, there’s a decreased chance they’ll run into issues with getting the care they need.

    Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

    No matter what your loved one’s financial, medical, or socioeconomic situation, all nursing home residents deserve care that can help them live their highest quality of life. As we discussed above, filing a personal injury claim against a negligent nursing home is an option in the event a resident is injured or worse. It’s important to be represented by a reliable attorney in matters like these, as nursing homes often have strong legal teams backing them.

    When you work with us, we’ll ensure you have the tools and resources you need to represent your loved one. We’ll help you build a strong case that proves the nursing home needs to reevaluate their system and increase their staff numbers to provide better care.

    We understand that nursing home litigation can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ll handle the difficult conversations and paperwork for you while making sure you understand every step of the process. To learn more about filing a claim, contact us today.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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