Some Illinois nursing homes are deliberately understaffed, leading to injuries and fatalities caused by inadequate care. While the state requires nursing homes to maintain certain minimum staffing levels, some owners and managers still try to keep them understaffed. Nursing homes are driven to increase profits, and labor costs are some of the highest expense categories that nursing homes have. When nursing home administrators deliberately understaff their homes, they are guilty of violating state laws. Other nursing homes may face staffing shortages caused by a difficulty with finding enough qualified nurses and nurses’ aids to provide proper care for the patients. Finally, poorly managed nursing homes may be short-staffed because of excessive turnover. A nursing home abuse lawyer may hold nursing homes liable when understaffing problems cause harm to the residents.
Reasons for and Prevalence of Understaffing
Nursing homes are chronically understaffed in Illinois and across the U.S. According to experts, as much as 95 percent of all nursing homes in the nation are understaffed. There are several reasons for staffing shortages in nursing homes. The jobs are difficult and do not pay as well as other medical jobs, making it more difficult for nursing homes to fill their available positions. Nursing homes may also have high rates of turnover if they are mismanaged. Because of short-staffing, existing workers may have to work significant amounts of overtime, leading to burnout. Other reasons that nursing homes may be short-staffed are more nefarious. Some owners and administrators are driven by profits and may run their homes with less staff in an effort to cut costs and drive up their bottom lines.
Consequences of Understaffing
There are multiple issues that are related to understaffing in nursing homes. Patients who are immobile depend on staff to regularly turn and move them so that they do not develop bedsores. When there are not enough workers, patients may develop painful bedsores and other skin infections. Additionally, when there are not enough workers, patients may be neglected. Nursing home neglect may cause patients to receive inadequate food and water. They may also not be bathed regularly or receive proper medical care, leading to injuries and deaths. Nursing home understaffing may also lead to increased stress in the workers. Some workers who are stressed may abuse patients. A nursing home abuse lawyer may advocate for patients who are victims of understaffing.