Staff Shortages at Nursing Homes a Troubling Trend

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlights a troubling and growing problem in American health care: understaffed nursing homes.

The cause of the problem does not appear to be mismanagement or excessive cost-cutting on the part of those who run nursing homes. Rather, jobs at nursing homes tend to be seen as undesirable. The fact that these positions are going unfilled is made all the more significant by three employment trends one might otherwise expect to alleviate the problem. Those trends: high national unemployment; lengthy average unemployment, begetting desperate job-seekers; and a strong growth trend in America’s health care sector.

It is not hard to see why staff shortages can lead to nursing home neglect and even nursing home abuse. If a facility is short-staffed, its patients are bound to receive less care and attention. Their health may deteriorate more quickly, their recoveries may lengthen, and any problems they have may go unnoticed longer. And an overworked staffer is more likely to take out his or her frustrations on defenseless seniors who do not deserve it.

If you believe a loved one is not being cared for properly at a nursing home, speak with staff and supervisors. Be specific about the problem and how you expect it to be corrected. Take careful notes about what you tell staff and how they respond. If you cannot resolve the matter by communicating in good faith, you may need an attorney. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney knows the standards applicable and how to hold facilities accountable to them.