Understaffing in nursing homes is quite common. Sometimes management does it intentionally because of labor costs. Management might falsify the resident-to-staff numbers. Other times a facility might have issues keeping sufficiently trained staff on hand to deal with all of the residents’ needs. This might be because the nursing home staff is underpaid, or because the staff is overscheduled and, therefore, overworked, resulting in them eventually leaving.

Understaffing can result in stressed-out staff taking their frustrations out on nursing home inhabitants in the form of physical and mental abuse, as well as neglect. That abuse can result in psychological and physical health problems and even death in some cases.

Even when understaffing with well-meaning employees, a smaller staff cannot keep up with all the needs of their residents sufficiently. Staff won’t be able to turn residents in their beds enough times or physically move residents adequately to avoid things like bedsores (which can result in skin conditions or infections) and muscle atrophy.

Stricter laws and fines are necessary to prevent such understaffing. However, until that happens, the best way to thwart understaffing is to report it like you would any other nursing home issue. In Oklahoma, if you see understaffing causing safety or health issues, you can contact Long Term Care Services at 405-271-6868, or email them at LtcComplaints@health.ok.gov. You can also contact the Oklahoma Department of Health toll-free at 800-747-8419 to leave complaints.

If you need further assistance with reporting understaffing for safety or health purposes, please also contact OK Eldercare for legal advice.

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