When you hear horror stories about nursing homes, do you ever wonder how they can be true? What is behind the rates of neglect and abuse that occur in these facilities that are supposed to be taking care of vulnerable seniors?
One significant factor is so simple to remedy that it is surprising that it continues: understaffing. Not having enough workers on hand accounts for the majority of most injuries at nursing homes. Make sure the facility your parent is at is not suffering from this problem to lower the likelihood of your loved one experiencing harm.
Insufficient staffing is the new normal
PBS reports that understaffing is an issue at most nursing homes, which have been outright lying on reports about how many people they have working each day. Weekends tend to have the lowest numbers, causing some places to have to double the number of patients staff care for. With too much to do, medical personnel are more likely to make errors in care, forget tasks and prioritize some duties over others due to limited time.
Reasons understaffing continues
While abusive people definitely exist in nursing homes, it seems that most neglect occurs unintentionally as a result of overburdened staff. The fix is easy: hire more workers. Why, then, do facilities not do this?
First, the medical field in general is experiencing a shortage of nurses. Add to that the populated baby-boomer generation growing older, and the difference in numbers between patients and nurses grows. Older workers are now retiring. Younger people are applying to nursing programs, but despite being qualified, schools are restricting acceptance because they lack the resources to educate them all.
While the shortage continues in the meantime, stress and fatigue are leading many nurses to change employment often or completely quit the profession. Nursing homes struggle to maintain enough staffing due to this cycle, as well as lacking competitive pay. With so many factors involved, it makes more sense why many facilities are having a hard time with understaffing.
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