When families are considering whether to use nursing-home services to care for their loved ones, they must consider various issues in determining whether a nursing home is capable of providing adequate care. Among other issues, a family must determine how well a nursing home staffs its operations.

For example, roughly 450 nursing-home care workers recently announced their intentions to go on strike to address the unfair labor practices occurring across four different facilities owned by the same company. But even before the workers commence their strike, the elderly residents within those facilities, and their families, have already endured the catastrophic effects stemming from underpaid staff, and the accompanying understaffed environment.

Understaffing, often, prevents facilities from delivering appropriate care to residents, and thus leads to neglect and abuse. For understaffed facilities, evidence shows increased incidents of—among other critical issues—pressure ulcers, catheterized patients, urinary tract infections; as well as an increased likelihood of death. At the same time, a facility must maintain adequate staffing to assist residents with eating, and to encourage their independence in feeding themselves. Without adequate staffing, facilities threaten residents with malnutrition and dehydration.

Furthermore, an underpaid staff may cause low morale, which will likely affect the quality care rendered to the residents, particularly for critical and labor intensive care such as frequent and regular turning and repositioning—often at least every two hours—of residents at risk of developing debilitating pressure ulcers. 

The dangers of understaffing in nursing homes is clear, and government regulators have attempted to reduce the negative effects by requiring all Medicare-participating nursing homes to meet the requirements specified in the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act. That legislation requires nursing homes to have enough staff to provide all necessary care to all patients on a 24-hour basis.

No one ever expects a family member or friend to be the victim of neglect or abuse in a nursing home. However, despite government regulations, residents of nursing homes often suffer the negative effects of underperforming facilities.

When someone you care about has been the victim of nursing-home negligence or abuse, the problems can seem overwhelming. Stark & Stark’s Nursing Home Litigation Group will advise you of your loved one’s legal rights, and will aggressively prosecute a claim whenever our investigation reveals any instances of negligence or abuse.