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The Majority of Today’s Nursing Homes Lack Adequate Staff

Transitioning a parent from living independently to living in a nursing home is difficult in and of itself. However, it can prove even more emotionally taxing if you have concerns about the quality of care your mom or dad receives while there. Unfortunately, many American nursing homes suffer from internal issues that can affect the treatment and care your loved one receives, and one such common issue involves nursing home understaffing.

According to PBS, the majority of nursing homes across Mississippi and the nation experience understaffing issues, making it all but impossible for staff members on duty to provide adequate care for residents. While the problem is a pervasive one at many nursing homes and continuing care facilities around the clock, it appears to be particularly noticeable on weekends.

Why are so many nursing homes understaffed?

While a number of contributing factors exist as to why so many American nursing homes lack adequate staff, low pay is a significant one. Many nursing assistants make little, if any, more than, say, retail associates, but they often have far tougher schedules and job demands. The difficult hours associated with working in a nursing home is another contributing factor, with many health care and administrative professionals preferring not to work overnight or on weekends. Additionally, the emotional nature of the job may also make it difficult for nursing homes to maintain adequate staff, particularly when the pay is not necessarily commensurate with the expectations of the job.

What are the consequences of understaffed nursing homes?

Unfortunately, the residents are the ones who suffer most when nursing homes have understaffing issues. In addition to making it more difficult for limited staff to take care of basic resident needs, such as feeding residents or taking them to the bathroom, understaffing can spread existing workers too thin mentally, making them more prone to making mistakes. Exhausted staffers, for example, may be more likely to make medication dosing errors or similar mistakes. They may also take out their frustrations on residents, both intentionally and unintentionally.

While these are some key problems that can occur when nursing homes lack adequate staff, please note it is not an exhaustive summary of all possible negative effects.