Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Nuring home staff with resident

Federal and state laws require nursing homes receiving federal funds to develop a plan of care and employ enough staff to provide all of the care within the plan. However, due to understaffing, many nursing homes fall short.

As a result, residents may:

  • Not be fed properly
  • Not receive sufficient fluids
  • Be over- or under-medicated
  • Develop bedsores
  • Be left in bed all day to lay in their own feces and urine
  • Not be cleaned or groomed
  • And more

According to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, understaffing is directly linked to poor nursing home care, including an increase in severe bedsores, malnutrition, and dehydration. These types of nursing home abuse (and others) have led to increased hospitalization of nursing home residents.

Over half of American nursing homes are below the suggested minimum staffing level for nurse's aides. These workers are the lowest paid and least trained of all nursing home staff, but most often they are responsible for feeding and bathing nursing home residents. High turnover rates among nurse's aides compromise the quality of care found in nursing homes.

In addition, nursing homes may not employ enough registered nurses to take care of the residents.

Understaffing and Malnutrition and Dehydration

Understaffing is a very serious problem in nursing homes. To hold down costs, many nursing homes hire nurse's aides to care for residents. These nurse's aides may be overworked, underpaid, under-trained, and inadequately supervised.

Even though it takes 30-60 minutes to feed a person safely and well, nurse's aides may be assigned to feed 15 nursing home residents at a time. This understaffing can result in residents being fed quickly, forcefully, or not at all. The effects of understaffing are even more severe when nursing home residents are cognitively or mentally impaired. It is estimated that 60-70% of nursing home residents have a mental impairment. Many of these residents cannot feed themselves. Due to understaffing, some of these residents may not be fed at all, and many don't receive enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

A report to Congress described the terrible effects of understaffing in nursing home residents:

  • "Because the food carts had to be returned to the kitchen at a specific time, the staff had only 45 minutes to an hour to feed residents. Feeling pressured to finish within the hour, the staff became impatient with those who ate slowly; they spoke to them authoritatively: ‘Open your mouth!' ‘Don't talk, eat!' ‘Laura, keep quiet. Quiet, Laura, you're eating!'… When residents ate too slowly, the staff often mixed the solid food… with the liquids… and residents were forced to ‘drink' their meal. All of the food — the entree, the vegetables, and the dessert — were added to the milk, resulting in an unidentifiable, unpalatable mix… Sometimes residents were forced to eat rapidly against their wishes: huge spoonfuls of food were placed in their mouths. Some residents choked and coughed as they were fed large amounts of food too quickly."

Nursing Home Abuse Because of Understaffing – You May Need a Lawyer

Today, many nursing homes are a part of large chains of public corporations that run the facilities to make a profit, more than to provide a high standard of care. The corporation receives payment for services, and then it decreases the services provided to enhance its profits. Often, the corporations cut nursing and rehabilitation staff to save even more money. This creates the perfect environment for nursing home abuse to occur, and for residents to suffer.

At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we have seen the effects of understaffing, and we have witnessed the devastation that nursing home abuse causes. Nursing home residents are people, first and foremost. But they are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. Families are torn apart when they realize their loved one has been abused and neglected by a facility that charges thousands of dollars to provide care – and then fails to provide that care. That's why we go to work for your loved one and other victims of nursing home abuse and their families.

We look at the following nursing home abuse case factors:

  • What injuries did the resident suffer? What were the medical complications that resulted?
  • What type of nursing home abuse did the resident experience?
  • Did the resident receive medical care to treat these conditions? Was it documented?
  • Who was responsible for the abuse – a staff member, a manager, or both?
  • How long did the abuse go on before it was reported?

Depending on the severity of the resident's injuries or medical complications, it may or may not be a serious nursing home abuse case. Find out with a free legal consultation from Edgar Snyder & Associates.

And remember, there's never a fee unless we get money for you. We guarantee it.