When a nursing home or care facility attempts to cut costs by understaffing the facility, it is the residents who suffer. It is not only dangerous to have too few qualified staff working at a nursing home, but it is also illegal. If you worry that your loved one is being neglected because of a lack of qualified workers at a Laguna Niguel nursing home, please contact a Laguna Niguel nursing home lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.
Nursing Home Staffing and California Law
According to the California Health and Safety Code Section 1599.1: “(a) The facility shall employ an adequate number of qualified personnel to carry out all of the functions of the facility.” The facility will need adequate staff to:
- Provide food of the quality and quantity to meet the patients' needs in accordance with physicians' orders
- Provide an activity program staffed and equipped to meet the needs and interests of each patient and to encourage self-care and resumption of normal activities
- Keep the facility “clean, sanitary, and in good repair at all times.”
Under California Health and Safety Codes, nursing homes are required to provide 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day. In other words, a facility with 10 residents must have 32 hours of direct caregivers every day. That 3.2 to one ratio does not include staff members who are not caregivers such as maintenance and janitorial staff. It does, however, include registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and certified nursing assistants.
It is important to remember that a nursing home should go above and beyond the legally mandated minimum requirements. Having 3.2 hours of professional caregivers per resident is the absolute minimum amount of staffing allowed. To provide adequate care, a nursing home should have more staff than required by law.
The Importance of Adequate Staffing
It stands to reason that the more staff you have on hand, the greater the chances of each patient receiving adequate care. It is tragically common in understaffed facilities for patients to suffer from neglect or even abuse. Individuals are more likely to become dehydrated, malnourished, unkempt and uncared for in facilities that do not have sufficient staffing. Understaffed facilities also mean that the staff on hand is probably overworked. In such cases, they may be more agitated, on edge and prone towards being short or mean to the residents. Victims of this type of emotional abuse may become depressed or withdrawn. When a worker is pushed to the brink, there is a greater chance of physical abuse occurring as well.
The Prevalence of Understaffing
According to statistics provided by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 1,285 nursing homes were cited in the year 2007 for “actual harm or immediate jeopardy” to residents. GAO statistics also show that California leads all states in the number of citations issued to nursing homes. Understaffing and lack of training are the most common factors linked to nursing home abuse and neglect.
Protecting your Loved Ones
A skilled Laguna Niguel nursing home lawyer can review the records of a care facility to prove that they have been understaffing their facility. California law clearly states what is the legally mandated number of workers a nursing home should employ and facilities that fail to meet that minimum requirement should be held accountable for their actions.
If you worry that your loved one has been neglected or abused at a nursing home, please do not hesitate to act quickly. It may be possible to not only protect your loved one, but also hold the facility accountable for their actions. The experienced Laguna Niguel nursing home abuse attorneys at Bisnar | Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP have a long and successful track record of holding negligent nursing homes accountable. Please call us at 949-203-3814 today for a free consultation and to find out how we can help you.