Nursing home residents need to receive adequate amounts of food and water to avoid dehydration, poor nutrition, and renal failure. A study by the Institute of Medicine found that understaffing in nursing homes has a large impact on residents' diet and nutrition. According to the Institute, in those nursing homes where the staff to resident ratios were small, not all residents received needed helped during meals, and resulted in a large number of residents suffering from dehydration and poor nutrition.
Furthermore, many nursing home residents need constant nursing attention to ensure that they do not develop medical problems. In many cases, residents need to be turned, moved, or given skin assessments to avoid developing pressure ulcers or from forming deadly blood clots. There have been an alarming amount of recent cases in which New York nursing homes have been found liable for elder abuse after a resident died or was injured due to inadequate care. In every case, inadequate staffing was named as a contributing factor to the cause of the abuse.
A new report by federal health agents supports these assertions. The report, which will be presented to Congress later this month confirms that understaffing contributes to malnutrition, dehydration, and medical problems among nursing home residents. It also recommends that guidelines are put in place that would require nursing homes to hire larger numbers of nurses and nurses' aids and would require nurses and nurses' aids to spend a predetermined amount of time caring for each resident.
Finally evidence is emerging that will hopefully help stop the abuse occuring in nursing homes! Although the report has not yet been presented to Congress, we can only hope that they will stop and listen. We should get behind this report, and support any subsequent legislative acts that may follow from its presentation. Unfortunately, elder abuse and understaffing is far too common within New York state, and we need to do all that we can to stop current abuse, and prevent any future occurrence. If you suspect abuse within a loved one's nursing home, do not be afraid to report your suspicions to law enforcement, and to consult with an attorney to become informed of the legal remedies available to you. Elder abuse may be prevalent, but it does not have to go unreported or unpunished!