The Effects of the Nursing Home Staffing Shortages
The pandemic has hit a lot of businesses hard. Customers and clients stopped showing up to protect themselves from the virus, and staff quit under the duress of burnout. As the pandemic has progressed, however, industries have seen workers and customers return as they’ve grown used to the new normal; industries, that is, save for the nursing home industry. Unfortunately, the nursing home industry has actually seen an overall and steady decrease of employment, and that fact means that many of these care facilities have long wait times for patients to be admitted, have had to turn away prospective patients, or have closed partially or entirely. So why is the nursing home industry experiencing such a disastrous decline of employment? It has to do with worker’s income, influx of COVID patients, and burnout.
What is happening to nursing homes?
Nursing homes have always had troubles with keeping their staff, but when the pandemic hit in early 2020, the loss in employees was drastic – and it has steadily decreased over the last couple years:
About 58 percent of the nation’s 14,000 nursing homes are limiting admissions, according to a voluntary survey conducted by the American Health Care Association, which represents them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 420,000 employees, many of them low-paid certified nursing assistants — the backbone of the nursing home workforce, have left since February 2020.
Unfortunately, many healthcare workers – such as employees of nursing homes – are low wage workers. This, along with burn-out, poaching from competitors, and a higher susceptibility to contracting COVID, has contributed to the falling numbers.
Even here in Oklahoma, there have been drastic effects. In May, The Diakonos Group, owners and operators of 26 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes in Oklahoma, had to close an 84-bed facility for seniors with special mental health requirements because they could simply no longer staff it. Patients had to be transferred to Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
What is burnout?
The World Health Organization defines burn out as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” There are three factors that characterize burnout:
- A feeling of exhaustion or general loss of energy.
- Increased dissonance from one’s job. This can include feelings of cynicism or negativity to one’s job.
- Lessened efficacy in one’s job.
The Mayo Clinic further details that burnout can lead to a loss of fulfillment in one’s job, and even a loss of one’s personal identity. Some of the consequences of job burnout include:
- Extreme stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
As we can see, burnout is no inconsequential thing.
What if my loved one is harmed because of burnout in an OKC nursing home?
If you have someone who needs the help that a nursing home or assisted living can provide, then the loss of workers can be extremely detrimental. A shortage of staff can not only mean fewer beds available for patients, but with such effects as burnout, it can lead to poorer care for the patients who are living in nursing homes. Burnout and staffing issues can lead to negligence on behalf of the remaining nursing home staff, which can lead to consequences for the patients. Those consequences can include malnutrition, poor hygiene, the risk of spreading infections, and even abuse.
In such cases, one could file a premises liability claim against the nursing home if an elderly loved one is harmed. This is because nursing homes owe their residents a duty of care. A facility which neglects its residents can be held accountable for the harm it causes if a resident falls, develops bedsores, is denied proper medical treatment, or more. If your loved one dies as a result of his or her injuries, you could file a wrongful death claim.
How can you reduce workplace burnout as healthcare worker?
If you are a healthcare worker experiencing burnout, there are some actions you can take to help deal with it. First, it’s important to talk to your supervisor. Raise your concerns about your health to them, and see if you can’t work together to come up with a plan that will lessen the stress your job puts on you.
It’s important that you have support during times of strife and stress. Whether that’s from coworkers, friends, or family, having someone there to let you know you’re not alone during tough times can help reduce stress greatly. Not only can they be there for you emotionally, but they may be able to help you out in a more pragmatic sense, such as helping with errands or chores.
Exercise and relaxing physical activities can help to reduce stress. Consider yoga or jogging. Focusing on your body can help take your mind off of the stress of your job, and can increase good hormones such as endorphins.
These are just a few ways in which you can help reduce the feelings of burnout, and help you to stay employed even during these chaotic and difficult times. While having a job and earning an income is extremely important, your mental health is just as important.
This pandemic has been kind to no one, but especially those who live and/or work in nursing home facilities. People who need the care of a nursing home are finding it extremely difficult to even get into one, and those who are receiving care in a group home may experience a lesser quality of life due to worker burnout and a lack of staff. If you or your loved one have experienced injuries due to a lack of care in nursing homes or group homes, then you may be able to find compensation through legal action. At Cunningham & Mears, we know the complicated ins and outs of the legal system, and can help you and your loved one find the compensation you deserve. To discuss what legal action is best for you, call the OKC nursing home attorneys of Cunningham & Mears at (405) 232-1212, or get in touch with us by filling out our contact form. Our office is located in Oklahoma City, and we’re ready to help you.
Marcus P. Mears is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Mears is committed to helping Oklahoma’s injured victims in the areas of injury law and insurance litigation. Mr. Mears was selected to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his work as lead counsel in multiple seven figure injury cases. Learn More