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Can nursing home understaffing lead to abuse?

Sometimes nursing homes do not have an adequate number of staff members to properly serve their residents. This can lead to a number of problems and issues.

Although it may not seem like such an important factor, the truth is that understaffing at nursing homes plays a big role in cases of neglect. There are both direct and indirect reasons for this connection.

Causes of understaffing

There are various causes for the understaffing of nursing homes. One of these has to do with cutting costs. It is cheaper to run a nursing home with fewer employees, so some nursing home directors decide to forego a sufficient number of employees in favor of making a higher profit. 

Sometimes, lack of nursing home staff is due to scheduling volatility and inadequate coverage on holidays and weekends. While nursing home employees may not offer their availability to work less-desirable shifts, nursing home residents need care consistently, not just during weekdays.

Another possible reason for understaffing is due to a shortage in the market of adequately trained and qualified candidates to fill the necessary positions. With an increasingly elderly population, more skilled workers are necessary in this industry, and demand may not be able to keep pace with supply.

Consequences of understaffing

A clear and immediate consequence of an insufficient staff-to-resident ratio in nursing homes is that the staff is unable to adequately tend to all the residents' needs. Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that can lead to injury, illness, and suffering among residents. Signs of neglect include improper care for residents' personal hygiene and grooming; bed sores due to lack of being properly moved in bed at the necessary intervals; missed medication; malnutrition; dehydration; and even psychological signs such as anxiety, fear, or anger.

Before you choose a nursing home for your loved one, get adequate information about current staffing levels and the nursing home's policies regarding its resident-to-staff ratio. Do not risk placing your loved one in a nursing home that is consistently understaffed or does not take the staffing issue seriously. Lack of adequate professional care is a common factor in many cases of nursing home neglect.

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