Nursing home residents deserve quality care regardless of staff levels.
Since the pandemic's start, the nursing home industry has lost about 15 percent of its jobs. This situation puts residents at greater risk for nursing home abuse and neglect.
Short staffing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may lead to:
- Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or ulcers. Bedsores develop when a person is stuck in the same position for hours, putting excess pressure on parts of their bodies. Joints and hips are often affected.
- Malnutrition, which can lead to an overall drop in health and the ability to fight off illnesses and recover from injuries.
- New and untreated medical conditions.
- Bruises from falls or abuse.
- Lack of personal hygiene and uncombed hair.
- Medication errors that lead to hospitalization.
- Broken bones due to falls or abuse.
- Death due to negligence or abuse.
Since March 2020, about 235,000 nursing home positions have not been filled or were cut, according to an AARP analysis. The loss of staff is primarily due to a worker shortage and not job cuts. This shortage existed before COVID-19 and was accelerated dramatically by the pandemic.
Nursing home staff that have exited the industry say that they left because of dangerous working conditions, low pay, few benefits, limited opportunity for advancement, burnout, and an overall lack of respect for their work.
Signs of nursing home neglect
When facilities are understaffed, nursing home residents frequently do not get the attention, medical expertise, medications, activity, and socialization necessary to maintain comfortable lives. That's not always easy to detect.
Signs that your loved one is being neglected or abused at a nursing home include:
- Bad odor
- Skin problems
- Personality changes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Decreased mobility
- Unexplained injuries
- Unsanitary facility
Unfortunately, the nursing home staff shortage isn't going away anytime soon. Current nursing home staff members are getting burnt out covering multiple positions and conducting constant training due to the industry's median 94 percent annual turnover rate.
Some people are calling the nursing home staffing crisis an "apocalypse."
Most of the staff that has left are CNAs - certified nursing assistants. This job is responsible for about 90 percent of patient care in nursing homes. They lift, bathe, toilet, dress, and feed residents.
Who will care for residents?
Some nursing facilities have created new positions to help support CNAs. Known as "resident care coordinators," people in this job are typically not medically trained and perform tasks such as changing bed sheets and preparing meal trays. Others are using technology to fill the gap, incorporating medication distribution machines and ceiling lifts to help people get out of bed.
But in many situations, the work is not being done. As a result, residents suffer.
States set their own standards for nursing home care, and many have reevaluated those regulations since COVID-19, including Georgia. For example, the state loosened mandatory care levels and permanently decreased minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care or skilled nursing centers.
Now, residents and patients of Georgia nursing homes should get 2 hours of direct nursing care per 24-hour period. Research shows that more than 4 hours of medical attention are required daily to maintain optimal resident health.
Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney today.
Regardless of minimum hour standards, nursing home residents should not have to suffer due to a facility's lack of resources. Keep in mind that staffing issues at nursing homes pre-date the pandemic, due in large part to facilities prioritizing profits over people.
At Kurle Justus, LLC, we hold negligent nursing homes accountable. Our attorneys are passionate advocates for injured nursing home residents and their loved ones, and we would be honored to review your legal rights and options during a free consultation.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, the time to act is now. Let our law firm help you get the justice and financial compensation your family deserves. Contact us today to schedule your free case consultation.