The Dangers to Nursing Home Residents of Living in an Understaffed HomeFinding the right nursing home for your loved ones – and then leaving them there – can be a very difficult process. If you can trust in the quality of the nursing home and its staff, then many of your concerns about having your loved one move into his or her new home can be allayed. However, it is an unfortunate fact that far too many nursing homes fail to maintain a proper standard of care to their residents – and part of this problem often involves understaffing.

Reasons for inadequate staffing

Nursing homes often compensate medical professionals far below their counterparts who work at doctor’s offices and hospitals. This is a problem that can prevent these homes from securing the type of quality caregivers who are required to sufficiently care for elderly residents. Even with adequate staffing, the job can involve long hours and difficult, stressful situations. Add understaffing to this reality and the consequences can be dire. Some nursing homes may understaff in order to increase profit margin. Others may have a hard time finding quality candidates. Regardless of the reason, inadequate staffing can put the proper care and life of your loved one at serious risk.

Quality of individual care is pushed downward when staffing is low

Quality of care given to residents is diminished when understaffing is an issue. For instance, without sufficient staff on hand, your loved one may not be attended to frequently enough for walks outside to get fresh air, trips to the bathroom, or addressing problems such as bed sores.

Other neglected activities due to understaffing may include eating, bathing, grooming, and receiving medications. All of these deficiencies can be characterized as nursing home abuse or negligence and lead to nutritional and other health-related problems.

One example of how understaffing could put seniors in danger

It is also possible that elders who are taken outside to enjoy the weather may not have proper supervision and be left to wander if they are prone to do so. A case in which this scenario would be potentially dangerous is when a nursing facility exists in close quarters to criminal or gang activity.

A recent case that demonstrates this danger occurred when former Chicago police officer and current West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), was looking at buildings in his ward last spring. As he toured these properties, he was appalled by how the elderly residents of these homes were compelled to live. While he and those with him were outside, they spotted “young men selling drugs in front of the senior residence. That was … a common thing they had to put up with. … One of the young men — you could clearly see he had a gun on him,” according to Taliaferro.

From this experience, Taliaferro move forward with a proposal to create “senior and nursing home safety zones”, so that residents do not have to be exposed to the dangers of criminal activity on a daily basis. The ordinance was approved and creates a protective zone within 500 feet of nursing homes and residential buildings “owned or rented for the purpose of providing care for three more adults” age 55 and up. As well, the ordinance establishes enhanced penalties for those persons possessing assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, silencers, laser sights, or committing any other gun related offense or crime in the protective zone.

In the above example, if a resident had wandered away from the facility because of inadequate staffing, their life may have been in significant jeopardy due to the surrounding criminal activity near the home.

The above issues related to understaffing only represent some of the understaffing concerns individuals may have before moving their loved ones into a facility. It’s important to do your research first and find out if a nursing home has an understaffing or high turnover rate problem before transferring your loved one there.

Moving your parent or other loved one into a nursing home is a significant event in both of your lives. If your family member or loved one has suffered abuse in such an environment, it is important to obtain the services of an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. At Gainsberg Law, we have the experience you need to hold those responsible liable for the harm your loved one has received. Our Chicago legal team will fight to recover the financial compensation your loved one deserves for the harm he or she has suffered. Call us today at 312-600-9585 or email us through our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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