Understaffed nursing facilities on the rise

Understaffed nursing facilities on the rise

One of the primary contributors to nursing home abuse and neglect in New Mexico and elsewhere comes from the practice of understaffing the facility. But the chronic lack of oversight of staffing requirements in nursing homes makes it difficult to see how great the problem actually is.

Over the course of 2020, nursing homes across the nation lost 264,000 jobs, which constituted a 7.8% drop from February to December of that year. Billions of dollars in CARES Act fund should have helped to resolve this problem by providing the means to pay for third-party agency employees, bonuses and hazard pay to in-house employees.

Staffing remains a chronic problem in the industry, as more than 90% of nursing facilities report requesting that workers accept overtime or double shifts. Although the healthcare industry overall lost a significant amount of its workforce between March and April of 2020, by December, employers had filled 31,500 positions. By comparison, nursing homes lost 6,100 jobs from November to December of that year.

Causes of nursing home abuse

One of the main causes of nursing home abuse and neglect is the understaffing of facilities, which creates a backlash from the exhaustion, lack of supervision and inadequate training of the staff. Overwhelmed nurses take their frustration out on their wards, and the vicious cycle of abuse goes on, unreported.

The understaffing of some facilities is profit driven. According to the CDC, 70% of nursing facilities are for profit, and recent reports have linked many companies that own multiple facilities to increased incidents of nursing home abuse. Between 2017 and 2018, one in six adults aged 60 or older experienced some sort of abuse in a facility.

Since the start of the current health situation, the chronic understaffing of facilities has led to increasing instances of severe infection, illness and death due to the neglect, lack of proper treatment or delayed response to illness. Ironically, this has resulted in millions of dollars in payouts to patients in wrongful death and personal injury claims.

Telltale signs of nursing home abuse

If your loved one is in a nursing home and you suspect that they may be victims of abuse, it is critical that you know the signs to look for. Some of these include:

  • bruises, broken bones, unexplained cuts or reports of unexplained falls
  • complaints about staff members, emotional withdrawal, or seeming fearful, anxious or depressed
  • malnourished or dehydrated appearance

Residents of Albuquerque who fear that their elderly love one is experiencing abuse or neglect should take immediate steps to investigate what is going on and find out what they can do about it.

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