Anyone who has had to place a loved on in a nursing home will be familiar with the guilt and dread associated with the decision. Sometimes the care required is just too much to provide at home. Other times the mental condition has just deteriorated to the point where a loved one is not safe at home. We help many families choose facilities and secure a place when the decision is best in the circumstances.
You may wonder about staffing levels at nursing homes. Each state sets staffing ratios for different categories of adult living facilities. The number of staff to resident is different (higher) in a nursing home than an assisted living or memory care facility. But some family members still notice that it can be hard to find a caregiver or other employee when they visit the resident.
Recently the Kaiser Health News reviewed nursing home payroll records. They found big fluctuations in day-to-day staffing of nursing homes nationwide. The differences were greatest on weekends. This article relied on an analysis of more than 14,000 nursing homes nationwide. On the lowest staffed days, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did at the highest staffing times. Obviously this would likely translate to big differences in wait time for assistance when a resident would use the call button.
To read more and review the staffing figures, click on the following links:
The compiled information makes a compelling case that there are times when there may not be adequate staff. Too often, the state may rely on facility reporting which exaggerates staffing levels. It is harder to hide the weak spots when payroll is reviewed. The facilities are not going to pay staff when they are not there. So payroll may be considered a better indication of how much staffing is present.
Obviously there are times where lower staffing may be excusable. Overnight shifts tend to be smaller because most residents will be sleeping for large portions of that shift. It is harder to justify Saturday and Sunday day shifts being substantially less than the same shifts Monday to Friday. Residents will still need to have meals prepared and served. Most residents will need medications administered. Many residents will need assistance throughout weekend days with feeding themselves, bathing, toiletting, etc. It is hard to see how a facility would think they can vary the staffing levels for weekends.
If you are faced with a placement decision or if you already have a loved one in a nursing home, you might benefit from patient advocacy from a trained team at an Elder Law Firm. If you would like to discuss these issues, please feel free to call us at 239-434-8557.