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Inadequate staffing can lead to nursing home neglect


Utilizing the services provided by a nursing home seem straightforward. An elderly loved one is registered to reside there, and he or she is given the nutrition, supervision and medical care needed to keep him or her healthy and safe. Yet, behind the scenes, there are many regulations in effect in order to ensure these nursing homes are safe. These regulations address a number of issues, including employee training requirements and safe food preparation.

Another area that is regulated is nursing home staffing. If a nursing home is understaffed, then residents may be left without adequate supervision and nutrition, and they may be neglected to the point that they do not receive the medical care they need. Also, understaffed nursing homes may be unable to properly address emergency situations. Therefore, the Illinois General Assembly has instituted regulations to ensure that Illinois' nursing homes are adequately staffed.

Under these regulations, a nursing home must have the number of staff needed to provide direct care, based on residents' needs and the number of hours of direct care they need. This requires the nursing home to classify residents as needing skilled or intermediate care. The minimum staffing ratios vary based on how many residents need care, be it personal care, nursing care or skilled care. There are also minimums with regard to what kind of staff hours can count towards the minimum. For example, at least 10 percent of the minimum staffing hours must be occupied by registered nurses.

A lack of proper staffing can lead to injuries and death for nursing home residents. Those who have been harmed in a nursing home, as well as those whose loved one's have suffered injuries or death, should consider their legal options. A skilled attorney can look into nursing home regulations to determine if any of them were violated, which could support a finding of nursing home negligence and provide the basis for seeking compensation for damages suffered.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Section 300.1230 Direct Care Staffing," accessed on Sep. 17, 2016

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