Several years ago I resolved a case against a nursing home that involved a course of inadequate care. The turning point in the case was the fact that the inadequate care came down to the fact that the nursing home was not properly staffed and nurses that did provide care were burdened beyond their ability to give reasonable care.
More important than lawyers or lawsuits, studies show that when people select a nursing home for a family member, they give high importance to how well the nursing home is staffed. While staffing information usually comes in the form of resident/nurse ratio, this data does not tell the whole picture. Hiring practices, selection, training, supervision, and the development of nursing policies, protocols, and procedures are all vital components of a well-staffed nursing home.
In fact, our nursing home negligence cases confirm that cases of strong liability are usually the cases where the nursing home is not properly staffed.
With regard to a recommendation, families should be informed about staffing before they place their loved one in a nursing home. However, finding out which nursing homes have adequate and properly trained and supervised staff is difficult. For instance, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid recently developed a rating system that is available on the internet in order that consumers could make better choices in nursing home placement. Unfortunately, the rating system is not really informative when it comes to critical staffing information and criteria. The best information can come from the families with current or past residents.
A further recommendation- If you already have a family member in a home, keep a good record of the names and contact information of the nurses and other employees responsible for the care. Get to know them on a first-name basis and make sure you show appreciation for their efforts. Remember, at the end of the day, the nurses or care-giver has very important responsibilities and a major impact on the health and comfort of your loved one.