Nursing homes have been losing staff members due to high turnover rates, lack of trained staff, budget cuts, and other factors. The lack of quality care can lead to a decrease in the well-being of patients, including neglect and abuse. It is essential for everyone involved in the nursing home industry in any capacity – whether it be as an administrator, care provider, patient, or family member of a patient – to understand the link between staffing, safety, and potential nursing home abuse.
Understaffing Leads to Employee Stress
When a nursing home is understaffed, the current employees will certainly feel pressured by the short handedness in several ways. They may face less flexibility when it comes to requesting time off, some may need to work long shifts through holidays, and the average caregiver may need to tend to many more patients on any given day. While this type of workplace stress is not an acceptable excuse for nursing home abuse, it is an explanation; stressed employees are more likely to engage in abusive behaviors due to overwhelming frustration on a day-to-day basis.
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Mandatory Overtime Diminishes Patient Care
When a nursing home does not have enough staff, current staff members may need to work overtime hours even when they do not want them. While they may make more money during these times, they are also facing additional day-to-day stress that inherently diminishes patient care. Employees have less time to spend with each patient, and the demands of each shift can continue to grow until an employee reaches a tipping point; all it might take at this stage is one resident being uncooperative for an employee to “snap” and engage in abusive behavior.
Even if outright abuse does not occur, the chances of neglect occurring increase with insufficient staff. It becomes more likely that staff might overlook patients’ required medication dosage times, forget to change their clothes or linens, or fail to clean residents properly. These issues increase the chances of patient illness and injury.
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Staff Shortages May Lead to Unqualified New Hires
If a nursing home feels pressured to hire new staff as quickly as possible, this pressure increases the chances of the nursing home administration overlooking applicants’ qualifications or “streamlining” the hiring process in unsafe ways.
In extreme cases, this might include overlooking criminal history or neglecting to perform required background checks. This may also include insufficient training before delegating new hires to patient care. Ultimately, staff shortages could lead to unqualified or unsafe individuals taking charge of patient care and eventually engaging in abusive behaviors.
Nursing home abuse of any kind is unacceptable, and families affected by this kind of abuse should know their rights to legal recourse. Contact Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault Co., L.P.A. now at 419-843-6663 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your nursing home situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Michael Bell, is Partner and Personal Injury Attorney at GT&B since 2007. His entire career has been committed to protecting the rights of those injured through no fault of their own. Mike concentrates his practice in the areas of car wrecks, trucking accidents, medical negligence, wrongful death, birth injuries, defective products, nursing home abuse & neglect, dog bites, construction accidents and slip & falls.