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Proof is in the numbers: Nursing homes are understaffed

Nursing home residents and families have suspected it for years, but the proof is in the numbers - nursing home facilities are understaffed. New federal data shows that a majority of nursing homes had far fewer aides and nurses staffed than they reported to Medicare.

Nursing homes overstated staffing numbers

Nursing homes send staffing reports to Medicare, but reports go unchecked, leaving room for embellishment. Medicare then takes the reports and places facilities into a rating system. However, payroll reports were recently checked with the staffing reports, finding large gaps between the numbers.

Medicare is working on creating more accurate ratings for nursing homes based on new data, however, the system does not show the large staffing differences between weekdays and weekends. Most facilities fail to fully staff on weekends, leaving a poor staff-to-resident ratio. A New York Times article states that a facility had one aide per eight residents some days, and one aide per 18 residents on the lowest staffed days.

Understaffing leaves room for injuries

Elders need the same level of care every day, whether it is the weekend or not. On days where staffing is low, residents may not receive their meals, may not get to the bathroom on time and may not receive their needed medication. Exhausted and busy staff members may not tend to the little things that can make a big difference for residents who cannot communicate due to disabilities.

Inadequate staffing can lead to preventable resident injuries. Over two million reports of elder abuse happen in Ohio and across the country every year. Many of these may be prevented with adequate staffing and care at nursing homes.

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