Many cases of nursing home neglect and abuse occur due to staffing issues. It is difficult to keep well-trained staff at these facilities due to the difficult and demanding work, which includes having to work long days, physical aspects of the job and high workloads. Many of the issues with staffing directly relate to the understaffing issues. However, states and the federal government can set standards to ensure a nursing home has the proper number of staff to accommodate the number of residents.
According to Virginia Mercury, though, Virginia does not have a law mandating a specific staff-to-resident ratio. In fact, the law is quite vague only stating a facility needs to have sufficient staff to care for patients. Federal law is just as limited. It also does not give a staff-to-resident ratio and only mandates a registered nurse be available at least eight hours each day.
Without guidance, nursing facilities can basically staff however they want. They also can fill up beds without concern about whether they have enough staff to properly offer a high level of care. Because of this, the state has one of the worst records for understaffing in the country.
When a nursing home lacks the proper staff, residents pay the price. Residents sit in bed without moving, which can lead to bed sores. They do not get medications in a timely manner. They go without proper hygiene. Even worse, when staff are overworked, they may become more likely to abuse residents and treat them without respect and care.
It is impossible to provide the level of service that residents should have when there is not enough staff to properly see to their needs. The best way to fix it is to implement stronger laws that at least ensure the staff-to-resident ratio is manageable.