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Are falls more likely in nursing homes that are short-staffed?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Nursing Home Abuse

Elderly people are more likely to sustain a severe injury in a fall. And when a fall results in a broken hip, there is an increased likelihood of them passing away within a year.

We often place our loved ones in nursing homes for their own safety. But, if the facility is understaffed an elderly person may still be at risk of a life-threatening fall.

The impact of staffing levels

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of nursing staff, and it’s only expected to get worse. Some nursing homes had several shifts without a registered nurse, and many fell short of the minimum required nursing hours per resident.

Unfortunately, this contributes to falls that could have otherwise been prevented. Adequate staffing levels are essential for providing care and supervision to residents. When nursing homes don’t have enough direct care staff, the existing staff cares for more residents than they can safely handle. In a short-staffed environment, caregivers can’t:

  • Monitor their residents
  • Assist with their mobility
  • Promptly respond to their needs
  • Spend adequate time providing care
  • Ensure fall prevention measures are in place

Nursing home residents often require individual attention to prevent falls. In addition, regular safety checks and room inspections are crucial for identifying and eliminating fall hazards. Many times, residents need assistance with transferring from their chair to a bed or require help with toileting. Often, staff cannot leave one resident to help another, increasing the risk of the resident falling.

When there is a nursing shortage, existing staff become overworked and exhausted, leading to burnout. With that comes reduced vigilance and attentiveness. There is also the increased risk of errors, such as the improper use of safety equipment or incorrect medication administration.

You are your loved one’s advocate, and you want to know they are adequately cared for. If you discover that your family member’s nursing home is understaffed, you should report it to the proper authorities. Failure to provide proper care is neglect, which is considered a form of elder abuse.