Understaffing in nursing homes is often a root cause of many of the unnecessary injuries, illnesses, and wrongful deaths we see in our practice. Nursing home staff members are often hard-working, dedicated people who just can’t get everything done that needs to be done. This means much of the routine work that needs to be done doesn’t get done and the more critical work such as making sure that the care planning process is implemented doesn’t get done.
Not having enough people on hand not only puts nursing home residents at risk for poor outcomes, it also violates federal regulations which require nursing homes to have enough staff on hand to meet the care needs of the residents on a 27/7 basis.
Instead, when we meet with family members of nursing home residents who have been the victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, we hear things like:
- I came in at 11 am, and my dad was still in his pajamas.
- My mother said that no one had given her a shower in 5 days.
- We rang the call light after my mother had a bowel movement, and no one came to help for 45 minutes and she was left sitting in it until the aide finally showed up.
- I came in at 2:30 in the afternoon, and my dad’s lunch was on the bedside table. He couldn’t reach it, and it was cold. No one was there to help feed my dad.
- My mom had a dressing which was supposed to be changed daily, and I have a picture of one that was 4 days old.
When nursing homes are understaffed, resident care suffers. Not having enough staff on hand to meet the day-to-day needs of residents in a nursing home sets the stage for unnecessary injuries and deaths for nursing home residents in several ways:
- It sets the stages for residents to develop bed sores as a result of residents not being turned and repositioned and not receiving prompt incontinence care;
- Residents will not get assistance with walking, resulting in them getting up without assistance and supervision, setting the stage for nursing home falls.
Understaffing is usually a chronic issue due to choices made by management about how to set staffing levels for the facility. In a proper case, we can obtain data from the nursing home about its staffing levels and about the required levels of care that it is reporting to the federal government and show the difference between the two. This can be correlated to the stories that families tell about what they see at the nursing home and what happened with regard to any given accident.
We discuss the issue of staffing and management choices in more detail in our FREE report, Built to Fail, which is available for immediate e-mail delivery to you.
Contact our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers to learn more about what your rights are after your parent or other loved one suffers unnecessary injuries, illnesses, or wrongful death in an Illinois nursing home. The initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to hire us if you do contact us.