3 Ways Understaffing Can Lead to Iowa Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

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Posted by Pressley Henningsen

Understaffing is one of the biggest causes of nursing home abuse and neglect.  The vast majority of nursing homes in Iowa and the United States are understaffed.  There are a variety of ways that the lack of staff can affect nursing home residents and lead to abuse or neglect.

1.     Understaffing at Iowa Nursing Homes Can Cause Mobility Issues

Many nursing home residents don’t have the ability to adjust themselves while sitting or lying down.  Although you may not realize it, shifting positions is important to keep pressure sores from forming.  These bed sores, also known as decubitus ulcers, are painful and can become infected if not properly treated.

The best way to avoid pressure ulcers is to have nursing home staff shift the resident’s position several times a day – ideally, every 2 hours.  However, an understaffed Iowa nursing home may not have enough manpower to do this on a regular basis.  If these residents are neglected and aren’t moved, it’s likely they will be susceptible to these bed sores.

Then, if these sores aren’t properly cleaned and dressed – which is unlikely to happen for the same reason they developed in the first place – they can lead to serious infection or even death.

2.     Understaffing in Iowa Care Facilities Means Unmet Resident Needs

Nursing home residents are usually in a nursing home because they are not able to care for themselves in some way.  It’s possible just one resident may need assistance with eating, drinking, going to the toilet, bathing, switching positions, and other basic needs.

If you add to this another 8, 10, or 12 residents with similar needs, it’s easy to see how one staff member assigned to this many residents could have trouble taking care of everyone.  Neglected residents can suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores, and other conditions that arise from a lack of proper care.

3.     Understaffing Can Stress Staff and Lead to Iowa Nursing Home Abuse

If there is not enough staff to properly care for all of the residents in a nursing home, the employees that are there can be overworked and stressed.  Unfortunately, this stress can lead to staff abusing the residents they are supposed to care for.

There is no excuse for abusing anyone, especially someone who is unable to care for themselves.  Keep an eye out for unexplained bruises, cuts, or psychological changes in your loved one.  Any of these that cannot be explained properly may be a sign of nursing home abuse.

How to Protect Your Loved One From Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected because of understaffing at an Iowa nursing home, you should speak with the facility’s administrator.  Bring any photographs or written evidence that you have and explain what you’ve seen.  Ask how the nursing home staff intends to improve the situation and get it in writing, if possible.

It may also be a good idea to move your loved one to a nursing home that has a better staff-to-resident ratio.  It’s possible the current nursing home simply does not have enough staff to meet all of your loved one’s needs.  If this is the case, do some research into finding the right nursing home for your loved one.  Make sure the next facility you choose is able to properly care for their residents.

If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected in an Iowa nursing home, you need to speak with an experienced nursing home attorney.  Call RSH Legal today at 1-319-519-4312.

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