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The physical and emotional impact of an understaffed nursing home

A nursing home that does not have enough workers on staff is a place where the potential for neglect cannot be ignored. In a case like this, that neglect may not even be the fault of the workers themselves, but of the executives running the home. Workers may not be willfully neglectful, but even their best efforts may not be enough since they can only do one job at a time.

In a home like this, there is a chance residents could suffer from:

  • Bed sores, which are painful ulcers that form on the skin when a person is not moved frequently enough.
  • Malnutrition, a result of not having access to food when it is needed.
  • Weight loss, which may well be related to malnutrition.
  • Dehydration. The staff needs to be diligent about providing water for the elderly, and an understaffed home means people slip through the cracks.
  • Physical injuries, which may happen when an elderly person needs help doing something -- like taking a shower -- and doesn't get it. Falls are a very serious threat for the elderly without proper assistance.
  • Loneliness and an overwhelming feeling of isolation. Even if family members come visit for an hour or two every day, the lack of staff means people aren't around most of the time. Plus, without staff members to help, those in homes may not be able to get to social gatherings and meals.

Nursing homes should not just be staffed with the minimum amount of people possible, as any little change -- someone falling ill and going home at lunch -- means all residents' needs cannot be met. When this leads to neglect and injuries, family members need to know all of their legal options.

Source: The Consumer Voice, "Nursing Homes Need More Staff!," accessed Feb. 28, 2018

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