In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated staffing shortages in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Staff burnout seemed to hit an all-time high, and many caregivers left the industry entirely, causing nurse-to-patient ratios to skyrocket.
Now three years after the first reports of COVID-19 in the United States, staffing shortages continue at concerning rates. With so few nursing homes properly staffed, residents are at even greater risks of nursing home abuse, neglect, and wrongful death.
A Leading — And Growing — Cause of Nursing Home Abuse
While nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect can have several causes, one of the most concerning links is the lack of appropriate staffing to adequately care for residents of long-term care facilities.
Without an adequate staff-to-patient ratio, nurses and other staff members might have to work long hours and rush through providing care, increasing the chances of injury and medication errors.
Additionally, staff might forget to move or bathe residents who cannot perform these necessary tasks themselves. This can lead to stage 4 bedsores and infections that, if left untreated, may result in wrongful death.
Nursing Home Staffing Crisis Statistics
Unfortunately, staffing shortages are prevalent in long-term care facilities across the nation. In fact, nearly 30% of 14,000 nursing homes surveyed in March 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a staffing shortage.
Alarmingly, as staffing shortages rise, the demand for long-term care continues to grow. A report from the Boston Indicators details that the retiree population in the Boston area will increase by more than 50% in the next 20 years.
The same report estimates that the population of 85-year-olds in the U.S. will triple by 2060.
The effects of the nursing home staffing crisis are already being seen. In Pennsylvania, it’s estimated that 2,000 residents are on waiting lists to access the long-term care they need.
Pennsylvania Health Care Association President and CEO Zach Shamberg told Local 21 CBS News, “Providers are still limiting admissions due to lack of staff. We can’t be in a position where our population is aging, but, at the same time, long-term care providers are being forced to shutter their doors.”
In rural Iowa, a Good Samaritan Society nursing home left 38 residents to find a new facility when it shuttered its doors late last year. It joined 13 other rural Iowa homes forced to close for lack of staffing.
An early estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that 129 nursing homes throughout the U.S. had closed in 2022.
The nursing home staffing crisis is clearly having disastrous effects on those in need.
Ways to Keep Loved Ones Safe From Nursing Home Abuse
To protect this vulnerable population, we all must work together to advocate for changes in the long-term care industry.
Facility managers, who have too often put profits over residents, must quickly address working conditions, wages, and benefits for nursing home staff.
Lawmakers should push for more funding and regulations to aid and support facilities in providing the best care possible.
Many nursing homes are able to keep poor conditions hidden because there is a lack of visitors. People can take small steps by visiting local nursing homes regularly. With more visitors, residents may begin to feel more safe talking about the quality of care they are receiving.
Additionally, visitors must be mindful of the warning signs of abuse and neglect and report any concerns to the authorities.
If someone you love has experienced nursing home abuse, our team at Nursing Home Abuse Justice is here for you. Call us at (800) 896-7040 to see how we can help you hold those responsible accountable.