Instability in Nursing Home Staffing Impacts Resident Quality of Care

Nursing home staffing levels frequently decreased on weekends. In 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services distinguished facilities with low staffing on weekends and ordered states to perform surveys in a section of those locations on weekends.

In January 2022, the Center started posting weekend staffing levels at nursing homes. Besides single staffing measures citing two reports about the need for additional staffing details on the Care Compare website.

Study Shows Value of Providing Public with Staff Information

A new study affirms the value of providing more detailed staffing statistics to the public. Examining staffing levels at 14,499 nursing facilities in 2017 and 2018, researchers determined that the daily variation in nurse and nurse assistant staffing levels, which are described as insatiable. They also note that even though consumers appreciate the value of staffing hours, they might not appreciate that daily staffing variability is connected with quality.

The Center has explained that everyday tasks including medication administration and monitoring are adversely impacted by both inadequate staffing and the absence of stability in staffing availability. During times of low staffing, when nursing home residents do not receive necessary care, they are more likely to end up with different conditions including pressure injuries because staffing was not adequate to rotate them in bed, the worsening of wounds occurs when staff is not available to alter dressings in a timely manner, falls with injuries without consistent attention to anticipating needs, including requiring assistance in using the bathroom. Most of the consequences 

Challenges Created by Short Staffing

Most of the consequences of short staffing cannot be remedied by additional staff on other days, more turning or toileting on extra-staffing cannot avoid the fall or wound development that happened when a facility was understaffed.

Researchers determine that for-profit nursing facilities, particularly those owned by chains, have less stable staffing levels than other facilities.

What You Can Do to Make Sure Your Loved One Receives Appropriate Nursing Home Care

Despite challenges with staffing, there are some steps you can follow to make sure that your loved one continues to receive adequate care at a nursing home. These steps include:

  • Routinely visit your loved one to make sure the care they receive is suitable.
  • When you visit the nursing home, remain observant of important details like staffing as well as safety. Make a note of any dangerous or uncomfortable things that you see. 
  • Some signs of abuse are more readily visible like bruises, but other signs of abuse are easier to hide. This is why you should examine your loved one for any signs of abuse and neglect. This might include changes in your loved one’s behavior. If you have concerns whatsoever about potential abuse, you should make to adequately record your concerns and alert the appropriate entities about the potential for abuse. 
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