Nursing homes across the United States have a big issue when it comes to staffing. Many people may not realize how serious this issue is, but it can cause your elderly family members and loved ones to fail to receive the level of care that they need and deserve when living in long-term facilities.
As a result, many seniors in nursing homes in Louisiana and other states are at risk of being abused and neglected, which can lead to other problems, such as malnutrition, dehydration, falls, injuries, illnesses, and even death.
What are Louisiana’s staffing requirements for nursing homes?
Nursing homes are considered to be a type of nursing facility in the state of Louisiana. According to the La. Admin. Code tit. 48 § I-9821, “the nursing facility shall have sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services that meet the needs of each resident.” This means that in order to meet Louisiana’s staffing requirements, the nursing facility needs to ensure that every single resident receives their required medical treatments, medications, food, and other health services and necessities whenever they need them.
La. Admin. Code tit. 48 § I-9823 also explains that “the nursing facility shall provide a sufficient number of nursing service personnel consisting of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medication attendants certified, and certified nurse aides to provide nursing care to all residents in accordance with resident care plans 24 hours per day.” This law goes on to explain that nursing facilities must provide a minimum of 2.35 hours of care to each patient every day. There are specific staff members who can be used to count towards these minimum staffing requirements during their shift, as long as they provide direct care to the residents. These staff members are the nursing department directors, the director of nursing, and the assistant director of nursing.
Lastly, La. Admin. Code tit. 48 § I-9825 states that all residents must receive “personal attention and nursing care and services in accordance with his/her condition and consistent with current acceptable standards of nursing practice.” This means that each resident must be assessed and taken care of properly depending on their individual needs.
What are the federal government’s staffing requirements for nursing homes?
Almost all nursing homes receive some form of federal government assisted funding, such as Medicare or Medicaid. These nursing home facilities must meet the federal government’s staffing requirements, which requires:
- At least one full-time director of nursing
- An LPN or RN on duty at least 24 hours per day
- An RN available and on duty for at least eight consecutive hours per day
It is a recommendation for nursing facilities to have an RN/patient ratio of 1:5. However, if the nursing home cannot meet this recommended ratio, they are still considered to be in compliance as long as there is at least one nurse on duty. There are currently no federal rules or regulations regarding the number of CNAs or staff members in a nursing home. As long as the staff members are taking care of and providing services to the patients at all times of the day and night, they are considered to be in good standing.
Why would a nursing home facility be understaffed in Louisiana?
Besides the fact that the state and federal regulations regarding staffing in nursing homes are very lenient, there are many reasons why a Louisiana nursing home facility might be understaffed. The following are a few of the most common reasons:
- High turnover rates: It is common for nursing homes to experience high turnover rates. This is because workers get burned out, become overworked, or find something that pays better. A nursing home may be understaffed because they simply cannot keep workers.
- High cost of labor: Nursing homes stay open 24 hours a day. Therefore, it can become very costly to pay employees to work shifts that cover the entire 24 hours per day. As a result, many nursing homes will try to cut corners to save money by having less staff members.
- Inability to pay for overtime work: Another common reason why nursing home facilities are understaffed is because they are unable to pay for overtime work. Many employees expect their jobs to pay them extra when they work overtime. Therefore, if a nursing home is unable to do so, this can result in understaffing.
- Not enough applicants or serious workers: It is also common for nursing homes to post jobs but have trouble finding employees because no one applies. If they do receive applicants, they may not be serious workers, resulting in them being lazy, not following directions, or failing to meet the residents’ needs. As a result, the nursing homes may have to fire the new employees, or they may quit on their own.
- Lack of people with the proper training or education: When individuals apply for the available positions at a nursing home, they may not be qualified for the job. For example, they may lack the education, training, or certifications needed for the role. The nursing home has to remain understaffed until someone who is qualified applies for the position.
How does understaffing affect nursing home residents?
Understaffing in nursing homes can cause serious issues for residents. Here are a few examples of the negative effects of understaffing in nursing homes:
- Nursing home residents are more prone to be dropped when there is only one staff member available to move them. This can result in serious injuries, such as a skull fracture, broken bones, severe bruising, and more.
- Nursing home residents are more likely to try to do things on their own when they cannot get a staff member to help them do something as simple as using the restroom, taking a shower, or getting dressed. This can cause slips, trips, and falls, which may result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, fractured hips, and more.
- Nursing home residents are at risk of being neglected. As a result, they may become dehydrated, experience malnutrition, and miss important medication doses. In addition, the staff members may forget to ensure that the residents move around frequently, which can lead to painful bed sores and infections.
The New Orleans nursing home abuse attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere have been standing up and protecting elderly family members and loved ones for over three decades. Therefore, if you choose to work with our team, you will never have to question whether or not we know and understand how to handle these types of claims. Call or contact us to schedule your free case evaluation today. We are ready and available to assist you at our firm locations in New Orleans, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Louisville at your earliest opportunity.
Stephen M. Garcia represents victims of elder and nursing home abuse and is known as one of the leading civil litigators in the country. He is Senior Partner at Garcia & Artigliere, where the firm’s practice is focused on elder abuse, nursing home abuse, and wrongful death of the elderly.
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