Understaffing in Nursing Homes in New Mexico

empty nursing home dining areaYear after year, understaffing continues to be a problem in our nation’s nursing homes. Understaffing directly affects the quality of care provided to residents, such as hygiene, proper nutrition and safety. Insufficient staffing leaves nurses, caregivers and other employees overworked and stressed out, often resulting in neglect or even abuse of residents.

It is crucial to understand why understaffing occurs and how it impacts nursing home residents. Families and residents who are aware of understaffing issues can make more informed decisions when choosing a nursing home and can advocate for better care for their loved ones.

If you suspect your loved one is suffering due to understaffing in a nursing home, contact PKSD New Mexico today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyers are ready to fight for justice and secure the compensation your loved one deserves.

Call 505-677-7777 now or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.

Common Causes of Understaffing in Nursing Homes

There are many reasons why many nursing homes are consistently understaffed. While some factors are out of nursing homes’ control, many appear to put profits above providing the care residents need, even residents with severe cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or dementia.

Here are some of the other factors in understaffing at nursing home:

  • High Labor Costs: Nursing homes operate 24/7, causing substantial labor expenses. Many facilities cut down on staff to lower these costs, leading to a short supply of personnel.
  • Turnover: High turnover rates are common in nursing homes due to the demanding nature of the job. Overworked and underpaid staff members often leave, exacerbating the understaffing issue.
  • False Reports: Some facilities may falsify staffing levels, presenting inaccurate data to authorities. This misrepresentation can mask the true extent of understaffing problems.
  • Overtime Issues: While overtime can fill gaps, it often leads to employee burnout and decreased quality of care, as exhausted staff struggle to meet residents’ needs.

What Are the Negative Effects of Understaffing at Nursing Homes?

Understaffed facilities contribute to employees becoming spread thin and unable to assist residents with their needs as promptly as they should. With fewer staff members, essential tasks can become delayed or neglected, leading to severe consequences for residents.

Overworked staff are more likely to experience burnout, which can lead to a decrease in the quality of care and even result in abusive behavior towards residents.

Quality care factors that often become affected by understaffing include:

  • Timely Medication Administration: Understaffing can lead to delays in administering medications, which can cause health complications or exacerbate residents’ existing medical conditions.
  • Meal Delivery: Residents may not receive their meals on time, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other health issues.
  • Personal Hygiene and Grooming: Insufficient staff means residents may not receive regular baths, help getting dressed, or brushing their teeth, leading to poor hygiene and increasing the risk of infections and other medical issues.
  • Mobility Assistance: Understaffed facilities may lack the personnel to assist residents with walking, physical therapy or mobility exercises, resulting in decreased mobility and an increased risk of falls and related injuries.
  • Medical and Health Monitoring: Checking residents’ vital signs and physical appearance, such as wounds and bedsores, may be neglected,‌ potentially missing early signs of serious health issues.
  • Emotional and Social Support: Understaffed facilities often lack the time to provide residents with the emotional support and companionship they need, leading to feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
  • Cleanliness and Sanitation: Insufficient staff can result in unclean living conditions, increasing the risk of infections and decreasing residents’ comfort.
  • Safety and Security: Inadequate supervision can lead to safety issues, such as residents wandering off or being exposed to potential abuse or neglect. Staff may also struggle to respond effectively to emergencies, putting residents at greater risk.

How To Identify Understaffing at Your Loved One’s Nursing Home

Understaffing can lead to neglect, which occurs when a nursing home fails to deliver adequate care and meet the essential needs of one or more residents.

It is important to make regular visits to your loved one’s nursing home and look for signs of neglect, which can indicate understaffing.

Some common signs of nursing home neglect include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Injuries
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Not receiving medication on time
  • Stressed caregivers
  • Asking about going home or visiting familiar places
  • Increased activity at night

Talk to the staff when you visit. Getting to know them can provide insight into the overall staffing situation. It also gives you an opportunity to find out what protocols they should be following.

You can also use these conversations as an opportunity to ask about the care plan for your loved one. The plan should be thorough and specific to your loved one’s needs.

Another factor to consider as you talk to staff and inquire about treatment of residents is state laws on staffing levels. In New Mexico, facilities are required to maintain specific staffing ratios. For example, there must be at least one direct care staff member for every 15 residents during waking hours.

If the facility is not meeting this requirement or others stated in the law, and it results in an injury to your loved one, you may be able to take legal action.

If understaffing has led to the neglect or abuse of your loved one, it is critical you report the issue to the authorities and seek legal assistance. Legal action can hold facilities accountable and help prevent future neglect of your loved one and others at the facility.

Contact PKSD New Mexico for Legal Help

PKSD New Mexico is dedicated to nursing home residents who have been neglected or abused, often due to lack of sufficient staff.

We offer extensive resources, aggressive representation and personalized attention to each case. Our goal is to obtain financial compensation for the pain, suffering and medical expenses caused by nursing home neglect.

If your loved one was neglected or abused at a nursing home, contact PKSD for a free consultation to discuss your case. We operate on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid if we win your case and secure compensation for you.

For a free consultation, contact PKSD New Mexico at 505-677-7777.

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