Should you worry if your parents’ nursing home is reducing staff?

You and your parents love the nursing home they are in. It is cheerful and spacious, and the staff members are attentive. However, you hear that the nursing home is making staff reductions. Is that reason to worry? Possibly, since lower staff numbers may lead to increases in abuse. Sometimes, the abuse may even be unintentional like, for example, when there are not enough staffers, and important information falls through the cracks, or medication distribution gets delayed. However, a decrease in staffing is not necessarily cause for alarm.

Communication is key

The hope is that the staff reduction announcement includes solutions. For example, something such as, “Although we will have 10 fewer nurses, our new shift management software ensures that coverage remains as robust as ever,” may be reassuring. Even something along the lines of, “Despite the streamlining of our staff, we will still exceed staff/resident ratios, and will have X nurses for each resident,” is straightforward.

If the nursing home keeps silent on solutions and does not give you clear answers when you reach out, then you may have reason to worry, and likewise if you have noticed gradual staff reductions with no announcements. It is perfectly fine to ask why the staff reductions are occurring in the first place. For example, a history of money mismanagement can lead to issues in other areas.

Frequent visits may give you peace of mind

After a staff reduction occurs, visiting a bit more often than usual can help set your mind at ease. The visits let you check that your loved one is still receiving quality consistent care. However, if the visits turn up instances of your loved one being left alone when he or she should not be, or instances of medication being delayed due to too many patients and too few staff, that could be cause to worry.

The nursing home remains clean and attractive, and a happy place

After the staff reduction, it is often good news if you cannot really notice any change. That is, beds are still being made as before, residents are still being fed as always, and morale appears unchanged. However, it can take months or even years before the full effects of a staff reduction manifest.

It is possible that the nursing home was overstaffed in the first place or that staffing adjustments allow the home to operate like before with little or no loss in resident safety. However, if you do suspect abuse or negligence are occurring, it can be a good idea to contact an attorney.