Nursing Home Staffing: The Key To Adequate Care

Problems due to understaffing in senior citizen home centers have reached such alarming levels throughout the U.S., it is now considered a crime to undercut personnel. The consequences of chronic staff shortage for patients in elderly care installations range from painful and uncomfortable conditions on a day-to-day basis, to wrongful deaths in extreme situations.

Many patients in these facilities cannot fend for themselves –physically, mentally, or both. Less staff means less help to set senior citizens in motion. This specific measure is essential, in order to limit or eliminate the chance of developing pressure ulcers –those terrible painful bed sores many geriatric patients disclose. Also, restrained patients are not moved that often; there is simply not enough help available to accompany them around.

Centers are faced with difficulties even to tackle simple tasks, like adequate hygiene procedures. Cases involving maggot-infested feeding tubes and insect-ridden installations have rocked the public conscience in recent years.

Authorities need to place special focus on chronic staff shortage in nursing homes. The examples of how this situation causes pain, anguish and death are undeniable. There are laws in place aimed at protecting elderly residents, and concentrate on the patients’ right to achieve utmost well-being, dignity and self-determination. Regulations dictate that facilities need to involve patients, their families and/or legal representatives in a personalized care plan. These rights include the freedom to leave the premises under regulated conditions, ability to engage in sexual relationships, among other activities intended for the enjoyment of the geriatric population.

Local enforcement agencies have to ensure nursing home centers are staffed with sufficient employees, in order to guarantee adequate service. Family members can be aware of signs of abuse or neglect. Staff shortages result in injuries, emotional unbalance and excessive use of medication in patients. A sedated person can be left alone for longer periods of time, yet the consequences to his or her health are catastrophic.

Nursing homes have the obligation to focus on improving staff training and providing adequate remuneration. They also have to avoid placing too many extra shifts on them, which could result in exhaustion, thereby diminishing their quality of service.