If you or someone you know is beginning the search for a nursing home for a loved one, you may have found that it may be a more difficult task than was initially expected. After all, your family wants the absolute best care; and no one wants to settle on a less than reputable nursing home.
While shopping around, make sure to visit each nursing home, meet with the staff and take a tour of the facilities. Make sure to try and spend some time in the common areas. Watch and listen carefully to ascertain the activities of both the staff and the patients. There are many things for which you will want to be on the lookout, but there is one common problem that is often overlooked – and can prove quite detrimental for patients at the Facility: Understaffing.
Although Nursing Homes have specific standards, best practices and requirements regarding cleanliness, sanitation, provisions for patients, medical facilities and staff-to-patient ratio, there aren’t always strict enough rules in place to prevent understaffing. Nursing home jobs tend to have a reputation for being one of the more taxing occupations in the healthcare industry, making it more difficult for such facilities to fill vacancies in their staff.
Due to the consequences caused by understaffing, it can easily turn into a perpetual or cyclical problem that becomes more and more difficult for the Nursing Home to resolve. When a facility is understaffed, the employees become overworked, which is especially problematic since the job is already very taxing and carries with it a great deal of stress. Because of the abundance of other healthcare opportunities, many nurses may simply give up and seek employment elsewhere, often leaving the Nursing Home even more understaffed.
While it is true that understaffing is an arduous obstacle for nursing homes and the nurses working there, the patients end up enduring the worst of the consequences. Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that could yield a variety of calamities for patients. One of the most common causes of such neglect is understaffed facilities.
Due to the high potential for discomfort, injury, illness and death of patients under the care of poorly staffed Nursing Homes, it is imperative to determine whether there is an adequate amount of personnel while you shop around for the right Facility. Base requirements for nursing homes state that the facility must provide 24-hour licensed nursing services. Furthermore, the facility must employ the services of a registered professional nurse at least 8 consecutive hours a day, 7 days a week.
Using these standards can give you a decent guideline by which to determine whether the Nursing Homes you are considering are sufficiently staffed. However, if you have a family member, friend or loved one is currently in a nursing home that you find may be understaffed, depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to seek out the advice of legal counsel. Regardless of your decision, however, it is important to follow through with more thorough verifications to ensure your loved ones are receiving the proper care from a properly staffed facility.
Frank Cristiano is a Denver Malpractice Attorney and Law Blogger at Cristiano Law