While the state government grants some waivers, California law says that nursing homes should provide at least 3.5 nursing hours per resident per day. Not maintaining this level over the long haul puts residents at significant risk.
Understaffing in nursing homes often leads to malnourishment in residents. In these residents, the inside of their mouth may turn bright red. Thrush may develop, causing white patches on the tongue and cheeks. Muscles throughout the body become much more easily fatigued, and the resident may also have glassy or swollen eyes. Lack of adequate nutrition can also lead to rapid mental decline.
Understaffing often leads to bedsores because the staff does not turn residents regularly. Bedsores are a skin infection that is relatively easy to prevent in most cases if a resident is not left to lay in wet conditions and if staff members turn residents every two to four hours. Bedsores may go unreported and untreated if nursing homes attempt to cover up evidence that understaffing has occurred. If your loved one has a bedsore, then you may want to talk to a lawyer with experience handling nursing home injuries and elder abuse.
Another often overlooked problem occurring in residents living in understaffed nursing homes is dehydration. Some residents cannot get the water for themselves. Others, especially those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, staff must remind residents to drink. When the few present staff members are trying to do too many things, they often fail to recognize the signs of dehydration. Pneumonia and infections are commonplace in people who do not get enough to drink. Dementia and other memory issues often become worse. Not getting enough to drink weakens the immune system, which can set up many problems.
Putting a loved one into a nursing home isn’t an easy decision, and the situation is made worse when your family member receives inadequate care. If you feel that your loved one was mistreated through understaffing, talking to a lawyer may help your loved one.