How Nursing Home Staff Shortages May Affect Your Family Members Who Live In One

Data reveals that roughly 70% of older adults in the U.S. will require some form of long-term care during their lives (via SingleCare). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1.3 million people reside in nursing homes, according to data compiled in 2015. For our loved ones who need one, choosing the right nursing home facility is of the utmost importance. However, widespread staffing shortages across the country may impact the quality of care they receive, reports Healthline.

A recent survey conducted by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) revealed numerous challenges that nursing home staff are presently facing, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. Polling more than 750 nursing home providers, only 2% reported being fully staffed. In fact, 87% reported having moderate or high staffing shortages in their facility and 98% reported hiring difficulties. To address these issues, nearly all providers stated they have asked their staff to work overtime. Even so, experts reveal nursing home employees often remain underpaid (per Healthline).

Steps families can take

Particularly concerning were survey results revealing that over 50% of nursing homes feel they are unable to operate at their current pace beyond one year. Similarly, 73% reported concerns regarding having to shut down if the staffing shortage continues. Nurse shortages can be detrimental to patient care, including an increased risk for human errors and patient morbidity and mortality, according to research published in Stat Pearls.

To help ensure that loved ones receive optimal care, co-founder and executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) Patricia McGinnis suggests that families utilize online resources such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) website (per Healthline). "Every nursing home in every state is on that website, and each one has a rating for consumers from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Avoid the ones that are 1 or 2," McGinnis told the site.

Additionally, Joy Loverde, author of the best-selling book "The Complete Eldercare Planner," advises that families give nursing home facilities a walk-through prior to deciding (via Healthline). When doing so, Loverde encourages asking questions of staff including what measures they take to keep residents safe. You may also want to consider posing questions to other family members of current residents as well. Be sure to look over any documents with an attorney.