A Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer explains how staffing issues cause problems
Across the country, many businesses are struggling to find workers. It’s a trend that started early in the pandemic and has impacted many types of employers, including residential care facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing homes and other residential care facilities have lost 380,000 workers since February 2020.
A survey by the American Health Care Association found that 94% of all nursing homes are facing staffing shortages. And 73% said their organization’s workforce situation has gotten worse compared to 2020.
The staffing crisis in these facilities has led some providers to turn away new admissions.
'Never seen it this bad'
“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” Terry Robertson, a chief executive for a Washington state long-term care facility, told the Wall Street Journal. “We turned down 138 admissions from hospitals last month because we didn’t have the staff to open another unit.”
Why are workers leaving? Administrators and workers say there are many reasons, including low pay, burnout, and fear of COVID-19. Other factors they cite include enhanced unemployment benefits and competing job opportunities.
Industry leaders have asked the federal government to provide more relief funding and support. They say this will help ensure that their facilities will be able to recruit and retain the staff they need to provide high-quality care.
The biggest concern about these worker shortfalls is that without such help, the care in these facilities will deteriorate and there will be an increase in nursing home abuse and neglect.
Elder abuse can be physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, or financial. Staffing shortages can mean residents are neglected. This can lead to poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, infections, and medication errors that harm residents. The health of some residents may decline.
It’s important for nursing homes and other residential care facilities to have a healthy staff-to-patient ratio to ensure that the needs of residents are met and the facility in which they work is well-maintained and clean.
Legal help is available in Georgia if you suspect elder abuse
Everyone who has a loved one living in a nursing home or assisted living facility should be aware of the signs of elder abuse and neglect. They include unexplained injuries, such as bruises. Their loved one may have suddenly lost weight or have an unexplained infection. Another sign is sudden mood changes – your loved one may seem more depressed or withdrawn, for example.
If you do suspect elder abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility, there are steps you can take. Seek medical care for your loved one. Tell the nursing home about your concerns. If you think a crime has been committed, call the police. You can also report concerns to the Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Georgia.
Next, you should talk to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. The attorneys at Kurle Justus, LLC in Decatur, Georgia have been fighting for clients since 2004. A loved one should not have to suffer in silence. We will be their voice and stand up for their rights. We work to get better care for loved ones and to hold negligent facilities accountable.
If you think a loved one may be the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, contact us to schedule a free consultation today.