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Understaffing in nursing homes: causes and effects

Nursing home abuse occurs more often than children or friends of older individuals may know. One of the reasons this type of abuse or neglect can happen is because of understaffing within a care facility.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse often goes unreported and under-reported. For every known case of abuse, there are 24 unknown.

Causes of understaffing

There can be many factors that cause understaffing in nursing homes, but big ones include:

  • Cost: Hiring fewer employees or individuals who do not have proper qualifications to work in a care facility can make it so that residents do not receive the care they need and deserve. Similarly, many employees find the position difficult and choose to quickly relocate to another job, which can leave the remaining staff to pick up extra work.
  • Overtime: Because there are not enough employees, staff may choose to require overtime, which can create problems for residents.

Effects of understaffing

Most of the effects of understaffing correlate directly to the quality of life of the facility’s residents. Possibly the most common type of nursing home abuse that is seen in understaffed facilities is neglect. However, stress from understaffing could cause staff members to act out, abusing residents in other ways. Effects of understaffing on the residents include:

  • Lack of hygiene
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Bedsores/ infections due to lack of continuous care
  • Not taking medication regularly
  • Weight loss/ malnutrition

Noticing that a parent or loved one in a nursing home facility is not getting the care that they need is significant. Nursing home understaffing may be to blame.