Nursing Homes

12/9/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Anyone researching nursing homes for themselves or a loved one should know if the nursing home is well-staffed. Like many other service sectors, senior living facilities are facing an employment crisis. Unfortunately, inadequate nursing home staffing is a widespread and persistent problem. While many nursing homes provide excellent care, others cannot without sufficiently qualified staff.

To help prospective residents learn about nursing home staffing in their state, the Long-Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) publishes quarterly information on staffing for every nursing home in the country.

Also, since sufficient staffing is essential to a nursing home’s quality and safety, anyone touring a specific home should be looking for “red flags” and “signs” indicating the facility might be understaffed.

If you see one or more of the following signs, do not ignore them. Instead, voice your concerns, and if you do not get a satisfying response, you should probably look elsewhere.

1. High staff turnover

According to a 2021 survey reported in McKnights Long-Term Care News, the national turnover rate among registered nurses and certified nursing assistants in nursing homes and other continuing care communities jumped by around 5% between 2020 and 2021.

Workers coming and going fast is a red flag that could indicate the facility has poor management or procedures. High turnover increases the possibility of medical errors.

2. Staff-to-resident ratio

When you question the home’s turnover rate, also inquire about their staff-to-resident ratio. Seeing lots of residents but few workers could be an issue.

3. Call lights ignored

Observing those call lights outside the residents’ doors will give you an idea of the staff’s response time. Naturally, understaffed nursing homes will take longer to assist their residents.

4. Unclean facility

When a nursing facility looks or smells dirty, it might mean they are understaffed in the janitorial or maintenance areas. Low staff numbers put more of a burden on those who work there, resulting in important tasks, such as cleaning, being done quickly, carelessly, or not at all. If a nursing home is well-staffed, restrooms, bedrooms, and common areas will always look and smell fresh.

5. Unhappy residents

Residents may appear gloomy for a variety of reasons unrelated to the home. However, when most of the residents seem unhappy, it could be because they are not being cared for properly, especially if the nursing home is not well-staffed. When the ratio of patients to staff is too high, residents can suffer. Clean, well-groomed, and apparently happy residents are signs of excellent care. If these signs are missing, exercise caution.

6. Few activities or social opportunities

Nursing homes should offer opportunities for the residents to be active and interact with others. However, understaffed facilities may not have enough employees to supervise these activities or schedule and observe planned socialization events.

Quality, well-staffed nursing homes have multiple activities planned for each month. They typically include games, arts and crafts, outings, and religious services. These activities are essential to ensuring the physical and mental well-being of the residents, but staffing shortages can prevent them from happening. The lack of scheduled activities is a huge red flag.

7. An inappropriate visiting policy

The lack of a flexible visiting policy could be a sign that the home is understaffed. The facility should be allowing unscheduled visits during regular business hours. If they do not, that should be a worrisome sign. You should have the liberty to see your loved ones whenever you want, but staff shortages make it inconvenient.

If your loved one is moving into a senior facility, you want to ensure that they are being cared for physically and emotionally. Follow these tips for knowing if a nursing home, assisted living, or memory care facility is well-staffed, offering a greater likelihood that you and your loved one will both be satisfied.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff