Zevan and Davidson Law Firm Articles Understaffing Is A Major Contributing Factor To The Problem Of Nursing Home Abuse

Understaffing Is A Major Contributing Factor To The Problem Of Nursing Home Abuse

By David Zevan  Jun. 24, 2013 2:46p

Horror stories detailing shocking instances of nursing home abuse make the difficult decision of entrusting the care of a loved to a nursing home even more difficult. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports statistics showing that even though approximately 1 in 10 seniors will suffer from elder abuse or neglect, fewer than 1 in 5 cases are actually reported. One estimation puts the number of nursing homes that are seriously understaffed at around 50 percent. But other estimates report even higher numbers.

Nursing home abuse is a widespread problem that has been getting a lot of attention in the last few years. The spotlight on this issue is increasing public awareness and understanding, which is a major step towards eradicating elder abuse and neglect. Each abuse that is reported and investigated protects more elderly residents from suffering similar abuses.

There are multiple forms of elderly abuse, and knowing how to identify instances of abuse or neglect is one way for families to protect their loved ones. Being proactive is important. Elderly nursing home residents are not always able to report instances of abuse as they happen, so is crucial for family members and anyone who is in contact with the elderly, to be on the lookout for signs of abuse. Individuals with alzheimers or dementia, or other conditions that hinder communication, are more susceptible to abuse and neglect in all of its forms. Abusers are more likely to target those who are unable to easily communicate, or who are less likely to be believed if they do report the abuse.

Why understaffing is a problem

One of the factors that is easily identified as contributing to the problem of elder abuse is understaffing at nursing home facilities. There are other contributing factors like poor training or administration, but understaffing is a very common problem that means many residents at these facilities are neglected because staff do not have the time to give them the level of care that they need. Understaffing also puts a significant amount of stress on staff members, and high levels of frustration can mean that frustrations are taken out on the residents. Understaffed facilities are more likely to have neglected residents who are malnourished, dehydrated, do not receive the right medication at the right time, live in unsanitary or unhygienic conditions, develop serious bed sores, and are at high risk of falling.

Look for signs of understaffed facilities

There is no acceptable reason for these abuses. Being aware of the underlying circumstances that can put residents at risk, however, should inform your research process as you search for the right care facility for your family member. When you visit facilities, look for signs that it might be understaffed and answer these questions.

  • Is the facility clean?
  • Does it appear to be properly maintained?
  • Are residents’ safety being adequately monitored? For instance, immobile individuals should not be left unattended in wheelchairs. This puts them at a great risk of falls.
  • Are residents bedrooms and bathrooms kept clean?
  • Are residents in good humor or do they seem depressed and despondent?
  • Are staff responsive?
  • Are residents socializing with one another?
  • How many staff and nursing personnel are there?

Interviewing residents or family members of current residents is a very good idea and is an excellent way to get a feel for how residents are treated and the level of care they receive. You should also make sure to question the administration about the employee to patient ratio.

If you notice signs of abuse or even if you suspect abuse or neglect, immediately report it to the facility and to the state so that an investigation can take place.

Legal action

If your family member has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact a Missouri nursing home abuse attorney immediately. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney in your area can investigate your situation and gather evidence to build a case against the abuser and the facility where the abuse occurred. You and your family deserve justice and compensation when abuse occurs and an experienced attorney can help you to get it.

Call the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm at (314) 588-7200 to schedule a free consultation.

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