As our loved ones grow older and round-the-clock care becomes more necessary, many families turn to the professional caregivers in nursing homes for help. The effects that the management and employees of a nursing home have on the residents cannot be overstated. Elderly clients are vulnerable, and may depend on the facility's staff for everything from food to medicine to clean sheets.
Here’s what you need to know about how neglect by nursing home workers and management can impact the health of elderly people under their care, and what you can do legally if your loved one has suffered.
Poor Nursing Home Management Hurts Residents
Many nursing homes function on a for-profit basis; they are businesses, and that means they must make money. The downside is that a drive to maximize profits can create a strong incentive for owners or managers to cut corners whenever possible, often starting with labor.
An unscrupulous nursing home owner or management group may reduce the number of employees down to minimum levels - or even lower. When labor is reduced, the remaining staff often ends up overworked, leading to stress, exhaustion, fatigue, and life-threatening conditions for residents. Some of the issues that can result from a lack of staffing include:
- Neglecting basic needs. Residents rely on the nursing home for some or all of the activities that many people take for granted—including essentials such as bathing, grooming, and going to the restroom. When there is not enough staff to meet the needs of every patient, residents may end up immobile and stuck in unsanitary conditions that can quickly lead to disease or infection.
- Medication errors. Many nursing home residents need medication to manage multiple conditions on a daily basis. Overworked or overburdened staff are more prone to mistakes, including improper quantities, issuance of the wrong medication, or even skipped doses of vital drugs.
- Inadequate mobility management. For residents who are less mobile or are completely bedridden, it is critical that staff take the time to help prevent the formation of pressure ulcers (bedsores) by helping the resident change positions regularly. Inadequate staff levels are often one of the root causes of bedsores that worsen over time and lead to sepsis.
- Failure to meet nutritional needs. Maintaining proper nutrition is especially important in the elderly population, and many nursing home residents need help eating. Improper staff ratios may result in a lack of nutritional monitoring, which can lead to weight loss, as well as life-threatening vitamin deficiency.
Get Legal Help Now If You Think Nursing Home Neglect Is Occurring
Staffing issues impact nearly every aspect of resident care, and it is often up to family members or friends to speak up when they suspect inadequate treatment. Make sure that you are familiar with the signs of nursing home abuse, and know that there are many resources available from the National Center on Elder Abuse.
An attorney who has experience with nursing home abuse cases can also connect you the proper government agencies if necessary. Additionally, he or she will be able to evaluate your case to determine whether you and your loved ones have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the nursing home owner, management, staff, or other personnel.
The Law Office of Kenneth Berger works hard to protect seniors in the Columbia, Florence, and Myrtle Beach areas, as well as across the entire state of South Carolina. If you are concerned that your loved one may have suffered harm due to inadequate staffing or some other form of negligence, we would like to hear from you. Please reach out to us by telephone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page to get in touch with us now.