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Jonathan Rosenfeld

May 4, 2023

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Understaffing in nursing homes is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. As the population of older citizens continues to grow, the need for well-trained and experienced nurses and healthcare workers is also growing.

Unfortunately, many nursing homes cannot provide adequate staffing levels due to financial restraints, leading to a decreased quality of care for residents. Understaffing is particularly problematic for those with chronic medical conditions or who require extensive care and attention.

Understaffing in nursing homes can have serious consequences for the health and safety of residents, so we must work to address this problem as soon as possible.

Why Are Illinois Nursing Homes Understaffed?

It is well-documented that nursing facilities across the country are often understaffed. Various factors contribute to why this situation exists. Perhaps the most apparent cause of understaffing is budget restrictions, restricted overtime pay, and staff turnover.

Even though every state has its guidelines and regulations regarding staffing requirements, some nursing homes still struggle to maintain compliance due to financial issues.

In addition, some nursing homes may be unable to hire enough qualified personnel due to shortages in the nursing home industry – or lack of interest from potential employees because of a lower-than-average wage compared to other sectors such as retail or hospitality.

With less-than-desirable pay, long hours, and challenging conditions, many applicants will opt for more attractive opportunities elsewhere. The remaining staff members cannot meet nurse staffing standards when treating the vulnerable population of the disabled and elderly.

Finally, another common factor is that the older resident population requires a higher level of attention and care than younger individuals, meaning that more staff members per resident are needed than in other facilities like hospitals or general care centers.

With fewer recruits available and increasing demand, many nursing home owners struggle to keep up with their staffing requirements which can leave them vulnerable and open to abuse and neglect if they don’t take proper precautions.

The Inevitable Consequences of Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Every nursing home across the country is subject to certain staffing requirements [1]. Unfortunately, many homes do not comply with these standards, and actual nurse staffing levels are far too low.

The consequences of understaffing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities can range from poor quality care to abuse and neglect.

When understaffed, nursing home staff has to work longer hours and take on more responsibility than usual, making them fatigued and potentially less attentive when providing care to residents.

Without adequate numbers of staff, response times can be too slow or further delayed should an emergency occur when there is only one registered nurse available or the nurse is not on duty. This lack of attention by nursing home employees affects the resident’s care.

Medical needs may not be attended to promptly, or hygiene needs may be neglected due to a nursing home facility’s lack of time or resources.

Nursing Home Abuse, Mistreatment, and Neglect in the Medical Care Organization

With fewer staff members working in an understaffed facility, the opportunity for abuse increases significantly. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) [2] has a long list of reports of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse due to understaffed nursing homes.

Many elderly people have been physically coerced or verbally humiliated by staff members with high workloads and unbearable stress levels who take their frustrations out on vulnerable patients.

Factor into this equation a lack of supervision over nursing home staff, and it’s easy for any form of malpractice – such as misappropriation of funds or inappropriate medications – to go unchecked.

Nursing Home Neglect Due to Inadequate Staffing Levels

An impaired ability to monitor all areas of the residence leaves space for malefactors to act without consequence since there aren’t enough personnel around enough to watch them closely. At its worst state, extreme cases in nursing home management can lead to severe neglect of patient care where residents do not receive food, water, or vital medication they need.

This pattern often goes unnoticed until it results in death due to starvation or dehydration, among other causes, compromising many residents’ well-being. Neglect and poor treatment are entirely avoidable situations had an adequate amount of committed and alert staff members are present and working in the nursing facility.

Maintaining a Safe Environment for Nursing Home Residents

Understaffing at nursing homes [3] leaves many gaping holes in patient safety measures long established by healthcare organizations nationwide. Careful staff members who follow safe treatment protocols aim to promote welfare rather than cutting costs for the nursing home chain or achieving personal gain.

Sadly, some nursing home facilities fail their most defenseless residents because they don’t prioritize patient care over budgetary concerns. However, awareness and caring regulation on staffing issues can shift this paradigm for good so no nursing home resident ever has to suffer in silence again due to negligence within our healthcare systems.

Managing Labor Costs When Employing Enough Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants at Skilled Nursing Facilities

Sufficient nursing home staffing that meets the health care needs of residents at nursing facilities can be a challenge, given the limited resources available. Fortunately, a few steps can be taken to manage labor costs to ensure staffing levels remain adequate [4] and appropriate for each nursing home resident.

One way to manage staffing costs at the nursing home facility is to take advantage of scheduling methods like short-term contracts or hiring part-time employees. Creative nursing staff member contracts can help maximize productivity while keeping expenses low.

Relevant Minimum Nurse Staffing Ratios

For instance, if a nursing facility has periods where care demands are less than usual, they can set up shift rotations or substitute shifts with part-time staff during those times instead of having full-time personnel on the payroll. Minimal staffing levels that meet federal standards can help manage salaries, wages, and other costs.

Additionally, nursing facilities may also consider pooling staff from one unit or department to another when needed – this method helps keep staffing costs down and promotes efficiency across multiple departments.

Technology Improving the Lives of Residents Living in Nursing Homes

Another option that many nursing homes employ is advanced technology like computerized systems for staff member management. Automated scheduling software programs can help streamline processes like Patient Assignment Sheets and Activity Reports that otherwise would require manual tracking.

These reports make it easier for administrators to quickly review and adjust daily staffing levels based on resident needs. Automation systems [5] also help keep track of overtime hours or sick days to ensure proper scheduling regulations are being followed at all times.

Utilizing some combination of these techniques, nursing homes should be able to manage their staffing costs efficiently while ensuring the necessary amount of qualified personnel is available at all times to benefit patients.

When Family Members File Formal Complaints that Their Loved Ones Suffered Harm Due to Substandard Resident Care

When a family member files a formal complaint [6] regarding their loved one suffering harm due to substandard resident care in a nursing home, it can be challenging and emotional for all parties involved.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are still too common in many long-term care facilities as the level of care often falls short of the necessary standards. Every resident is entitled to be treated with human dignity and respect.

Anytime families feel their relative has suffered nursing home abuse at the hands of staff members or other residents in a nursing home, they should take action immediately by filing an official complaint with the facility’s management team.

Notifying the Illinois Department of Public Health

The complaint should include details about the event in question – including any witnesses and any pertinent medical records that may be relevant. Most importantly, the complainant must follow up with the facility regularly to ensure they take appropriate steps to address the issue.

If not, further action should be taken, such as contacting government agencies or ombudsmen offices [7] to help resolve the matter. It is also important for families to remember that filing a formal complaint does not always guarantee justice.

In any event, families should have faith that doing what is right will eventually prevail – even if it takes time – as taking action serves both practical and moral purposes in these situations. Federal and state agencies will always investigate substandard nurse staffing levels that harm nursing home residents.

Medicare requires immediate changes to understaffing in nursing homes, where owners and administrators must increase their licensed nurse staffing levels to meet the number of residents in the nursing facility.


When nursing home residents suffer serious harm due to inadequate standards of care, they may be eligible for financial compensation. A personal injury lawyer specializing in cases involving understaffing in nursing homes can provide legal advice and guidance to help families seek justice.

A personal injury lawyer can help injured nursing home residents understand their rights and negotiate with insurance companies on their behalf. They may also be able to file financial compensation lawsuits and advocate for civil action against negligent nursing homes to ensure that those responsible for not providing sufficient staff are held accountable.

Resources: [1], [2] Medicare, [3] CDC, [4] NIH, [5] NIH, [6], [7]

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