You moved your relative into a nursing home because they required more care than you were able to give them. You trusted that the nursing home staff would be able to help them with everything from getting dressed, and keeping track of their medical care to bathing and perhaps even going to the bathroom. None of this is easy — you know this very well — but nursing home staffers have the training and resources to take care of it.
That’s the hope, anyway.
In reality, nursing home staffers are often pushed past their limits. They may have stepped into their roles for the right reasons, and they may do their best to provide excellent care for nursing home residents, but these workers must work long hours at difficult jobs with low pay. Many of them get burned out quickly.
Understaffing gets worse
One of the biggest pressures on these workers involves understaffing. This has been a problem at nursing home facilities for a long time, but it has grown worse in recent years. According to some sources, more than 400,000 nursing home workers quit during our recent global health emergency, and the industry has been slow to replace them.
In some ways, this phenomenon in the nursing home industry resembles that of other industries in the same period. For a couple years, the news media were full of stories about the so-called Great Resignation, and the difficulties businesses faced in attracting employees for lower-paying positions.
In other ways, the problem is much more serious for nursing homes. The industry is built on providing necessary, round-the-clock care for vulnerable residents: Understaffing doesn’t just put these businesses at risk, it puts the residents at risk.
Some studies have found that the problem is worse in Virginia than it is in other states. State lawmakers have proposed bills that would require greater ratios of staffers to patients at these facilities, but these measures are far from becoming law.
Neglect and abuse are all too common
All the above shows why neglect and abuse happen at nursing homes, but it doesn’t excuse anything. There is no excuse for nursing homes that harm the people put under their care.
By some accounts, 40% of nursing home residents say they have been abused and 90% say they have been neglected in some way. These incidents can range from isolated incidents to large, ongoing, systemic problems.
Those who suspect their loved ones have been abused and neglected at nursing homes can consider taking legal action. This may be not only the right thing for their loved ones, but also a way to push the industry to take better care of nursing home residents.