Nursing Homes Have Been Lying About Their Staffing Levels for Years. It’s Not Just You

When you visit your mom in the nursing home and can’t find any aides or nurses to help take her to the bathroom, you may wonder if the facility is understaffed or if it’s just you. It not just you; your nursing home is most likely trying to hide a staffing shortage.

Staffing levels at Ohio’s nursing homes are worse than the national average

A recent AARP report shows that personnel shortages in Ohio’s nursing homes are worse than the national average, with more than 35% of nursing homes experiencing understaffing. Yet, many understaffed facilities still maintain five-star ratings in the Medicare nursing home star rating system by manipulating reported staffing information.

Based on payroll records from 14,000 nursing homes, facilities had far less staff on duty than previously reported. And, these findings were from before the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw over 200,000 nursing home staff and residents die from coronavirus, thrusting nursing homes into the public spotlight and further exacerbating staffing issues.

The dangers of short-staffed nursing homes and long-term care facilities

Staff-to-patient ratios have been in a perilous place since the 1980s. Further, nursing home staff were deemed to have the most dangerous job in America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has only served to make the shortage worse, putting staff and patients at risk.

When nursing homes are short-staffed, the remaining staff struggle to make sure the basic daily care needs are met, such as:

  • helping residents to the bathroom
  • delivering meals and fresh water
  • getting the right pain medications to the right residents

Medical tasks, such as re-positioning a patient to avert bedsores, often fall by the wayside, potentially resulting in unnecessary hospitalization or death. For example, Mark Miller, a long-term care ombudsman in Washington, D.C., shared with The Hill that his office is “currently investigating a facility that was only giving residents water during mealtimes, because they didn’t have enough staff to take people to the bathroom through the course of the day… and another situation where a woman tried to get up on her own to go to the bathroom because nobody was answering the call bell. She fell, and suffered an injury.”

What can be done about nursing home staffing?

We all agree that there is a direct correlation between good staffing and good care of residents, right?  Not so fast.

In 2001, the federal government recommended, but did not mandate, minimum nursing home staffing levels. Today, each state has their own requirements, and there is not one state with minimums that meet federal recommendations; all are lower.

A proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks to address the staffing crisis, by establishing comprehensive nurse staffing requirements to hold nursing homes accountable for providing safe and high-quality care for the over 1.2 million residents receiving care in Medicare and Medicaid-certified LTC facilities each day.

The adoption and enforcement of this rule would improve the life-quality and safety of both staff and residents, but is facing steep opposition from the powerful nursing home industry. The industry asserts that “any federal standard is unfeasible because of a nationwide staffing shortage made worse by the pandemic… it also amounts to an unfunded federal mandate because Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low.”

The bottom line about nursing home staffing shortages in Ohio

Unfortunately, this issue is not getting resolved anytime soon. The truth is that short staffing results in poor care, so the best thing you can do to protect your loved one is to be knowledgeable about staffing information, as well as learn how to spot nursing home neglect and abuse — so you can take instant action if needed.

If a Loved One Has Been Affected by Nursing Home Neglect, Call the Nancy C. Iler Law Firm for a Free Consultation

If you have a loved one in a nursing home and feel that they aren’t getting the care they need, call the Nancy C. Iler Law Firm at 216-696-5700, and ask for me. My firm accepts nursing home negligence, abuse, injury, and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not owe us any fee while your case is progressing, and there will only be a fee if compensation is recovered.

When care falls short and results in life-threatening injury, abuse, or wrongful death, the injured and their families need a strong advocate. I and my firm are committed to making a difference by holding corporations accountable for providing essential care, supervision, and safety to nursing home residents.

As a nursing home abuse law firm in Ohio, we represent many types of nursing home and assisted living care abuse or neglect cases:

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