How Understaffing Contributes to Nursing Home Abuse


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Nursing homes are often subject to understaffing issues due to the lack of funds, the ratio of elderly persons and the ability to find reliable help. When there is less staff than is optimal, there are many concerns that may arise such as neglect and abuse.

Tempers of employees may flare when older individuals living in the facility are not genial or responsive to requests and orders. This may lead to physical violence and repeated abuse. Another concern that may occur is neglect when there are not enough workers attending to an abundance of patients or elderly living in facilities.

Neglect is an important concern, and it is often caused by understaffing problems that nursing homes face. Overwhelmed employees of these companies may be more likely to abuse persons residing within when they are unable to deal with the stress of the job. The issue with understaffing is a danger to employees, the elderly and management due to the increasing numbers of the influx of the older persons. Some staff is hired without proper background checks, and these situations may lead to violent outbursts when too many duties are required of these individuals.

Reasons for Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Some reasons a nursing home owner or manager may ensure the facility is understaffed is to ensure profits are on the rise while more pressure and work is placed on the remaining workers. Various expenses such as labor and equipment may be another reason to attempt to curb staff. For nursing homes, management may find it difficult in retaining or obtaining fully and properly trained nurses and other staff. This means adequate care for patients and residents may not be available. A high turnover is usually the result of these concerns, and the greater demand for completing an overabundance of tasks frequently means workers leave.

Overtime Impacts

The lack of appropriate staff means that employees usually are required to work overtime even when they do not want it. This increases the stress on workers due to longer working hours and less time away from these facilities. While overtime is usually a benefit and wanted by many who work in a beneficial company, the necessity to stay much longer than planned may lead to numerous individuals staying away from these companies. Management may view workers that work overtime with no complaint as loyal and may provide additional benefits, it may prove difficult to keep them when the overtime occurs every week.

Consequences of Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Because many nursing homes vary based on patient and resident needs, the consequences may be different based on these factors. However, neglect and abuse are the more common concerns that occur based on the low ratio of employees versus the individuals living there. Neglect could lead to physical health issues, psychological ailments, emotional distress and death when neglect is either prolonged or happens when the person needs assistance the most. Consequences of understaffing may also occur with the employees as well. They may experience an increase and long periods of stress. Emotional turmoil and duress are frequent in these individuals. The trauma of changing working conditions could also lead to psychological disorders. As stress increases for both residents and staff, abuse and neglect may increase.

Neglect and the Needs of Residents

Though neglect may not directly affect a person, the prolonged act of neglecting a resident may lead to injury and fatal incidents. The lack of food, medicine, trips to the rest room and various other assistances tend to lead to decreases in senses and a functioning body. Sores and infections develop with frequency when bathing is not provided. Understaffing issues tend to cause lacking aid to aging individuals when those that cannot feed themselves must be feed directly. The amount of time and energy needed for these persons may mean they are neglected or that others are when no additional time may be allocated to them. Missed medication could be fatal for many in these facilities.

Prevention of Understaffing in Nursing Homes

It may become necessary for laws to be created and implemented that cause these facilities to strictly adhere to guidelines for proper staffing and treatment of residents. Lawsuits and fines often hold these companies responsible for these actions where a lack of employees causes injury. It may be best to hire a lawyer for exposed incidents of abuse and neglect to the elderly. Compensation claims for personal injury cases may be necessary to provide additional and long-term therapy for those injured in these situations.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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