As people get older, their risk of falling increases. Numerous physical factors contribute to this risk. Declining overall strengths is one issue. A shifting center of gravity caused by spinal compression is another. Someone who was previously very light on their feet may struggle to navigate even a small, single-story apartment space.
When older adults fall, they are more likely to suffer a break because they fell and to have significant medical consequences for the fracture that results from the fall than younger people. A previous fall or the steadily increasing risk of someone falling might be the reason that a family decides to place a loved one in a nursing home.
Unfortunately, those in nursing homes don’t always get the support they need and may fall again as a result.
Many nursing homes lack adequate staffing
A shocking number of nursing homes do not have enough staff on hand to meet the needs of their residents. Some of this understaffing is intentional. Companies schedule the fewest number of staff hours they legally can based on the number of residents at their facility.
The workers they do schedule can be in a very difficult position if someone calls in sick during their shift or for the next shift. Residents will suffer because there won’t be enough helpers around to support them as they go to the bathroom or head down to the dining hall.
Understaffing and neglect by staff members that are there are leading contributing factors to nursing home falls. Older adults who have adequate support are less likely to try to engage in daily tasks on their own. If they know they are going to wait for an hour after pressing the call button, they may give up and go to the bathroom on their own. The results could be a fall and a broken bone that leads to a significantly diminished quality of life for your loved one.
You can change practices by taking action
Nursing homes that don’t have any direct consequences for understaffing will likely continue this abhorrent practice. A resident falling is not really a consequence for the facility itself unless that resident or their family members takes legal action against the company or files a large insurance claim.
When you take action over inadequate staffing and the consequences it has had on your loved one’s care, you not only protect them and set your family up for reimbursement, but you protect other residents from similarly negligent care in the future. Fighting back when a loved one falls at a nursing home is one of the most important things you can do for a vulnerable older family member.