Understaffing in nursing homes is a very big problem. In fact, the entire state of New Jersey is experiencing serious issues with understaffed nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, such as assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers. The pandemic only exacerbated these issues.
There are many reasons why these long-term care facilities may be understaffed. Regardless of the reasoning, it is important to keep your eyes open for any signs that your loved one is being neglected or abused. If you suspect nursing home abuse, it is imperative that you speak to Cherry Hill attorney.
What does it mean for a nursing home to be understaffed?
When a nursing home is understaffed, this means that there are not enough workers to handle the needs of the residents who live there. The following are a few common reasons why nursing homes are understaffed:
- High employee turnover rates: Unfortunately, a lot of nursing homes have high turnover rates. This is big red flag: it often indicates that the work environment (and pay) is poor. It also means that there’s a good chance the staff is not fully trained or experienced, or that the nursing home turned a blind eye to the background check because getting bodies in the building was more important than hiring qualified caregivers.
- No one is interested in applying or working at the nursing home: Nursing homes can post their job listings, but this does not mean that anyone will apply or show interest in working there. This may be because the nursing home is not paying enough, asking for qualifications that many people do not have, or has already built a reputation in the area as somewhere people shouldn’t work.
- Nursing homes cutting corners to save money: It is not unusual for nursing homes to choose to be understaffed on purpose. Some nursing homes will even go to the extremes of reporting fake staff numbers. This is a way for them to cut corners and save money. If they have less staff, they do not have to pay as much money to their employees.
- Exhaustion and overwhelmed workers being asked to work extra hours without overtime pay: When a nursing home is understaffed, employees quickly become exhausted and overwhelmed by trying to do a job that is meant for multiple people. Nursing homes may also ask or demand that the employees work extra hours without giving them overtime pay. As a result, employees may quit or walk out on their responsibilities due to extreme stress, frustration, and burn out.
How common is understaffing in nursing homes in New Jersey?
Understaffing is very common in NJ nursing homes. It always has been. In 2021, legislation went into effect that required a certain number of employees at every New Jersey nursing home to cover each shift. However, regardless of this new law, one year later, in 2022, understaffing was still a very common problem throughout nursing homes in New Jersey: “An analysis by NJ Advance Media of data reported to the state by New Jersey’s more than 350 nursing homes found that nearly 6 in 10 do not meet the requirements of the new state law” (emphasis ours).
Another article released by The Press of Atlantic City explains that since the new law took effect in 2021, nursing homes are requesting changes be made to help them meet the staff to resident ratio. The 2021 law requires one nursing home employee for every eight residents during the morning and afternoon hours, one nursing home employee for every 10 residents during the evening hours, and one nursing home employee for every 14 residents during the night hours. During the first few months of 2023 alone, over 130 of New Jersey’s nursing homes failed to follow these ratios, and one nursing home – Sterling Manor in Mapleshade – was even fined $5,000 for not having enough employees to care for their residents.
How does understaffing harm residents of Cherry Hill nursing homes?
When nursing homes are understaffed, the residents are the ones who suffer the most. Here are some of the negative ways that understaffing in nursing homes can impact the residents’ lives and wellbeing:
- Residents are more likely to be dropped by workers: Moving residents is a two-person job. Therefore, when a nursing home aide cannot get help to move or transport a resident, they may decide to do this task on their own. As a result, they may drop and severely injure the resident.
- Residents are more likely to slip, trip, or fall: Slips, trips, and falls can happen if a resident needs to use the restroom, get dressed, or do any other task and cannot get an available worker to come and help them. They may decide to do it on their own, resulting in a slip, trip, or fall.
- Residents may develop painful bedsores, which can lead to infections: Bedsores frequently occur when nursing home employees do not have the time to rotate and move residents. When a resident spends a lot of time sitting or lying in one place without being moved, they are likely to form painful sores that resemble blisters, which can lead to infections.
- Residents may miss meals, medications, and baths: When there are not enough employees working in a nursing home, residents may not receive their meals at normally scheduled times, they may not be given their medications to help them heal or prevent illnesses, and they may not be bathed routinely. This causes issues with malnutrition, dehydration, hygiene, and recurring illnesses.
If you notice any signs of your family member or loved one’s nursing home being understaffed, such as bruises, cuts, bedsores, health problems, or medications not being taken, consider reaching out to the Cherry Hill nursing home abuse lawyers at Ferrara & Gable at your earliest convenience. Our legal team has the experience, skills, and knowledge to stand up against large and small long-term care facilities and demand the compensation you or your loved one are entitled to. Call or contact our firm to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation at our Cherry Hill office today. We are available and ready to assist clients located throughout all of South Jersey.