An Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer explains how staffing impacts safety
Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a big decision. We are trusting the facility to make sure that our loved ones stay healthy and safe. Unfortunately, many residents suffer because of nursing home abuse and neglect. One of the factors that can put residents at risk is a shortage of qualified staff members.
Staffing levels in nursing homes are a problem in Alabama and throughout the country. An AARP report found that 1 in 3 nursing homes in the state had a staffing shortage. Because of concerns about this problem, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have begun to post numbers on staffing turnover and weekend staffing levels for nursing homes across the country.
The agency had been sharing information on facility staffing on the Medicare website for more than ten years, such as the average number of hours worked reported for nursing staff, per resident per day. But the decision was made to also include data on turnover and weekend staffing levels to add transparency and give consumers more information.
Nursing home staffing levels “a top priority”
Nursing homes submit the data electronically through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system as required by law.
In a memo announcing the sharing of this data, David Wright, director of the CMS Quality, Safety and Oversight Group, said that staffing levels at nursing homes are a top priority for the agency.
“There are many different factors that impact how nursing homes are staffed, and the PBJ program aims to help us understand these factors, how nursing homes are staffed, and how staffing relates to nursing home quality,” he said. “This information can then be used to inform future actions aimed at improving staffing to protect and enhance the health and safety of nursing home residents.”
AARP said there are challenges to providing adequate nursing home care even when facilities are fully staffed, and that staffing shortages increase the risk of serious problems.
“About 37% of Alabama’s nursing homes are self-reporting staff shortages. So, that’s a very concerning issue for us because it relates directly to the quality of patient care that’s happening and the safety of the patients in those facilities. That means few staff taking care of more patients and that’s not a safe situation for anyone,” said Jamie Harding with AARP.
Your loved one is our top priority
Without proper staffing levels, nursing home residents are more likely to experience falls, inadequate hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and urinary tract infections (UTI).
A lack of staffing can lead to more stress and frustration for existing staff members, increasing the risk of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse of residents. The facility itself can also fall into disrepair, creating a hazardous environment.
Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to ensure adequate staffing levels. Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC fights for the rights of residents who have suffered abuse or neglect. Since 1998, nursing home abuse and neglect attorney Perry Shuttlesworth has been holding negligent facilities accountable and helping residents and their families get the justice they deserve.
If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering abuse or neglect in an Alabama nursing home, it’s important to get experienced legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.