Chicago, IL—Many issues exist within nursing homes that lead to poor quality care and unhealthy living conditions. One of those issues is understaffing. When a facility fails to ensure there is ample staff available to tend to the residents living there, it can lead to abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. Sadly, many nursing homes are aware of the risks associated with having low staffing levels but still choose not to bring on enough staff members in each work shift so that it doesn’t interfere with the facility’s ability to profit.
Although understaffing can serve as an issue in any type of nursing home, an article shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health cites that it is predominately a problem in for-profit homes and for-profit chains. According to the source “profit incentive is linked to low staffing because for-profit homes and for-profit chains operate with lower staffing and more quality deficiencies than nonprofit and publicly owned facilities.” The source also cites that the facilities that have earned the most are the ones that often have the poorest quality.
If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home that appears to be understaffed, you are encouraged to read on to learn more about how it can affect the residents who are living there.
How does understaffing affect nursing home residents?
Understaffing can have a multitude of effects on nursing home residents. Based on a study that involved 12 separate nursing home facilities, it was found that understaffing led to the following:
- Call lights were not answered in a timely manner.
Many residents rely on their call lights to notify staff members when they require assistance or have a concern that needs to be addressed. When a call light goes unanswered and a resident cannot get up and tend to their own needs, it can lead to serious outcomes. For instance, if a resident is not feeling well and their call light is ignored for hours, their condition could quickly worsen and reach a point where it may be more difficult to treat.
Based on the study, many residents claimed that because their call lights were not answered, they were unable to get up and use the restroom which resulted in them soiling their clothing and bed. Some residents said they were left in feces and/or urine for long periods of time.
2. Residents were left unbathed or left in the same soiled clothing for days.
When there aren’t enough staff members to tend to all the residents who are living in a facility, it is expected that certain needs are not going to be met, including providing a resident with a clean change of clothes on a daily basis or after an accident.
3. Bad odors filled the halls as linens were not changed regularly.
When clothing and linens are not changed, especially after a resident has soiled them, it is not only unsanitary and could lead to the development of infections, but it also can cause a resident’s room and even the halls to become filled with a foul odor.
4. Poor oral care and personal hygiene.
Many residents complained of having poor oral care and personal hygiene as they were not helped out of bed to tend to their basic needs such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, and getting dressed.
5. Residents were not repositioned every two to four hours as needed.
It is especially important for residents who are bedridden or limited in their physical abilities to be repositioned every few hours to prevent from them developing bedsores. Bedsores develop on the skin as a result of pressure being applied to the same area.1 This pressure cuts off the blood supply to the skin. Once a bedsore develops and is left untreated, it can worsen and eventually become an open wound.
The longer a resident is left in the same position, the more likely they are to develop a bedsore.
What are a nursing home residents’ rights when they are a victim of neglect?
Nursing home residents should always be provided with the proper level of care and should never be subjected to neglect, regardless of whether a facility is understaffed or not. The fact is, the individuals who live in these facilities depend on the health care workers to meet their needs and when they fail to do so, it is the residents who have to suffer both physically and psychologically.
With that said, if your loved one has been neglected by nursing home staff members which has led to them suffering, they may have a civil case against the nursing home. Illinois nursing homes are required to meet certain state and federal standards, and when these standards are not met, and a resident is harmed, they can potentially sue the facility for financial relief. If you are interested in learning more about bringing a lawsuit against a Chicago nursing home, you can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at 1-312-384-1920 to speak with one of our trusted Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers.
You can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at:
221 North La Salle Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601