New York Nursing Home Staff Shortages and Elder Neglect

Understaffing at New York Nursing Homes May Result in Elder Abuse and Neglect Injuries and Deaths

If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home or assisted-living facility in New York, you may know that New York is one of only a few states that does not currently have a law requiring nursing homes to meet certain staffing numbers. Therefore, patients and residents at these facilities may be at greater risk of injury as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect. Understaffing is a major cause of elder neglect injuries, given that fewer staff members means that patients may not be getting the regular care they need. According to a recent report from WIVB News, “some experts believe that staffing is by far the most important factor when it comes to a nursing home’s safety and quality of care,” and, given that information, New York lawmakers need to change the state’s law on staffing requirements.

As the report explains, many family members with elderly loved ones in New York are concerned about their loved ones’ safety due to understaffing in facilities in New York City and throughout the state. For example, one New Yorker discussed her complaints concerning her elderly aunt’s poor care at a facility. Her aunt, the report indicates, “complained about being left in her own urine for hours at a time and staff did not immediately respond when she hit the emergency call button.” This particular New Yorker reported that staff members at the facility “were constantly ignoring her call button,” and even turning it off without providing any kind of assessment or care. Although the family reported their concerns to the New York State Department of Health, the facility was not cited for any violations. Other New Yorkers report similar kinds of incidents, some of which have led to serious injuries for their elderly family members.

Understaffing is a major problem in New York nursing homes. To be sure, “the state ranks in the lower 20% nationwide when it comes to measuring staffing hours per resident per day.” Recently, New York ranked 41st—meaning that it was ranked among the worst 10 states in the country—for “total nurse staffing hours per resident per day.” NY also received the same very low ranking for “reported nursing aide staffing hours per resident per day.” While a number of states in the U.S. have instituted laws that require nursing homes to have specific staffing numbers over specific periods of time, similar bills have not been passed in New York.

Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse and Neglect

What are notable signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect? If you have a loved one in a nursing home, U.S. News & World Report emphasizes that you should be concerned about any of the following signs of poor care:

  • Physical changes in your loved one, including any signs of physical injury;
  • Emotional changes in your loved one;
  • Staff deflecting or refusing to answer your questions;
  • Frantic staff members, or clearly inadequate staffing numbers;
  • High rate of staff turnover at the facility;
  • Phones at the nursing home that go unanswered;
  • Call lights that are frequently blinking or go unanswered;
  • Signs of dehydration or malnourishment among patients; and
  • General bad feeling at the facility.

If you have concerns about a loved one’s safety at a nursing facility, you should speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer today.


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