Weekends Are Dangerous at NYC Nursing Homes

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

According to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, 61% of all nursing homes have staffing shortages all seven days of the week. Yet, on weekends, staffing shortages get even worse.

It’s gotten to the point where the federal government has announced plans to crack down on nursing homes with abnormally low weekend staffing. There will be more surprise inspections based primarily on payroll records.

Safe Staffing at Nursing Homes

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For nursing home staffing to be safe:

  • Residents should get 4.1 hours of one-on-one care daily, during which staffers help residents handle ADLs.
  • Each resident should receive 3.5 hours of nursing care.
  • Each worker should be responsible for no more than seven residents.

In many nursing homes, individual workers are responsible for 12 to 25 residents instead. It doesn’t matter how good or devoted a staffer is…if they’re responsible for too many residents, they won’t be able to give those residents the care they need and deserve.

At one New York nursing home, staff has just 1 hour and 58 minutes to help each resident get to the bathroom, eat, and receive other daily care on any given weekend. But the state average of 2 hours and 59 minutes really isn’t that much better. Under New York law, nursing homes must provide residents with 3.5 hours of nursing care daily. Residents describe weekends as a “ghost town.”

A recent survey of payroll records indicated that over the last decade, the government’s five-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified periods of thin staffing.

Staff often rely on family members to pick up the slack, but not all family members can visit all residents on all weekends, and the presence of family members does not relieve the nursing home of their obligation to provide safe care.

Injuries from Inadequate Nursing Home Staffing

Inadequate staffing can lead to a host of nursing home injuries, including:

  • Infections
  • Falls
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to receive vital medications
  • Abuse due to inadequate supervision
  • Death

Inadequate staffing also reduces the likelihood that staff will be tempted to use chemical restraints to manage residents, which is extremely dangerous in its own right.

If your loved one is hurt in a nursing home, call 911 immediately, then call a lawyer. If your loved one hasn’t been harmed yet but believes the nursing home is consistently understaffed, call the New York Long Term Care Ombudsman at (855) 582-6769. The Ombudsman exists to advocate for older people and people with disabilities who work in nursing homes, help residents exercise their rights, and advocate to ensure that elder’s rights are not violated. You can also call the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Inadequate Staffing in Nursing Home Lawsuits

Payroll records can help to demonstrate that your loved one was suffering from neglect at the hands of nursing home staff. Your lawyer can obtain this evidence for you.

You aren’t doing anything wrong by demanding that your loved ones receive adequate care. The nursing home industry is a for-profit industry. Like every for-profit industry, they’ll cry poverty while wringing workers dry, and will do just about anything to avoid offering better wages or working conditions. They’ve had decades to correct the problem: the dangers of understaffing have been common knowledge since the 1980s.

If they harm your loved one, the company that owns your elder’s nursing home has done so out of their own greed. Hold them accountable in the only language that they seem to understand.

Why pursue a nursing home lawsuit?

After reading these grim statistics, you may wonder why pursuing a nursing home lawsuit is worthwhile. After all, nearly every nursing home in the state is failing to live up to expectations.

Sadly, for some families, nursing home suits will be wrongful death suits, pressed after the damage has already been done. Others can sue on behalf of their loved one, and use that money to get them one-on-one, at-home care where the outcomes are generally better.

Get Help Today

If you have a nursing home abuse case, don’t delay. The longer you delay, the harder it will be to make your case.

We’ve helped hundreds of New Yorkers obtain compensation and justice for nursing home abuse or neglect, and we can help you, too.

Call now to schedule a free consultation.

See also:

How Negligence Can Lead to Nursing Home Falls

Is Your New York Nursing Home Using Chemical Restraints?

The Consequences of Isolation in Nursing Homes

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