Over the past couple years, many sectors of the economy have complained of labor shortages. One hard-hit industry is nursing home care. This is particularly worrisome for the greater community because low staffing at nursing homes puts the residents at risk.
There have been a number of reports and studies documenting the problem, but a recent report looks at it from a new angle.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers looked at the numbers of patients and workers in nursing homes, as well as at the types of jobs these workers had, the types of needs the residents had, and the neighborhoods where the facilities were located. They found that nursing homes located in disadvantaged neighborhoods were more likely than nursing homes in wealthier neighborhoods to house residents with serious health needs. They were also more likely to have staffing shortages. What’s more, the shortages at these facilities were most pronounced among higher-skill workers.
Residents at risk
Many studies have shown that nursing homes with relatively high staffer-to-resident ratios provide better care than facilities with lower ratios. Residents with more serious health issues need more staff to take care of them. And many such residents need more help from skilled staff, such as registered nurses.
The recent study showed that the facilities that are most likely to house the neediest residents are also the facilities that are least likely to have nurses and other skilled workers.
Researchers said 16% of facilities were located in severely disadvantaged communities. These facilities had 38% fewer physical and occupational therapists and 30% fewer registered nurses.
Justice for the injured
Given these statistics, it seems clear that some nursing homes are getting much better care than others. With so many nursing homes understaffed and so many residents receiving insufficient care, injuries, neglect, abuse and other problems are nearly inevitable.
Those who feel their loved ones have been mistreated in nursing homes can talk to a lawyer about their options for justice.