One common factor in nursing home abuse and neglect cases is a lack of enough trained staff members to provide proper care. Unfortunately, this is a factor that is only getting more prevalent, thanks in part to the high rate of COVID infections and slow uptake of vaccinations among workers.
These staffing issues put vulnerable residents at an increased risk of getting hurt or sick.
Fewer workers to tend to patients
One of the most prevalent issues triggered by low staffing levels is having too few people to help patients. Care suffers when there are not enough people to consistently:
- Change patients
- Help patients move around
- Deliver meals on time
- Spend time connecting with patients
- Monitor medication
These are basic services a patient should receive in a long-term care facility, but staffing shortages can make fulfilling these obligations impossible.
A smaller pool of job applicants
Workers in a nursing home facility provide essential services. However, attracting job applicants is a big challenge, especially for lower-paying positions. Thus, facilities may wind up hiring people who:
- Have a criminal record
- Do not have experience in the care facility setting
- Do not have appropriate training
- Are very young
These factors do not necessarily make someone a liability, but they may not be the best candidate for this role.
In an ideal scenario, care facilities would have an abundance of people with adequate training, experience and desire to work in this capacity.
Increased stress among workers
Working with nursing home patients is a stressful, demanding job. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. And being a care provider can feel like a thankless occupation when workers do not have the support or accomplishment they need.
Add to this the issues with COVID protocols and closures, and it can simply be too much for some people to manage.
Thus, nursing home workers can experience burnout, compassion fatigue and, as this article explains in more detail, moral distress.
Patients paying the price
Tragically, the people receiving care in a nursing home can suffer the most when there are not enough people to ensure smooth operation in a facility. They get sicker, abused or neglected. Should this happen to someone you love, the staffing levels and policies can be the first place to look for an explanation and accountability.