Get started by searching below:

Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Understaffing in the Nursing Home

Quick Answer

One of the major contributing factors to nursing home neglect stems from understaffing of the nursing home facility. Understaffing of the nursing home is a dangerous phenomenon for both residents and staff members and is now considered to be a crime.

Get a Free Case Review

Understaffing of a nursing facility can indirectly cause nursing home abuse because overwhelmed and underpaid nursing home staff members and caregivers are more likely to be abusive to a nursing home resident.

Causes of Understaffing in a Nursing Home

There may be intentional reasons why the owners or management of a nursing facility will understaff their facility. The cost of labor is one of the reasons why owners intentionally understaff their nursing homes.  Management may skew the numbers in favor of high resident-to-staff member ratios.

In certain situations, nursing facilities may be having problems finding or hanging onto enough adequately trained nurses and certified nursing assistants who provide all of the care to the nursing home residents.

A high turnover rate can result in the over-scheduling of available staff members and cause them to become overwhelmed by their duties.

If you believe understaffing may have caused your loved one to suffer nursing home abuse and neglect, get a free case review. Financial compensation may be available.

The Problem of Overtime at a Nursing Facility

Overtime is an extremely common phenomenon among nursing facility staff and can contribute to added stress levels on the part of the remaining staff members who are working longer and longer hours.

Overtime is considered to be a benefit by many staff members and nurses, as this will increase their wages when they work overtime hours. Overtime can also show that a staff member is loyal to the nursing home and may garner respect from the administrators.

However, overtime can contribute to a dynamic where the staff members feel like they have to work an unreasonable number of hours to gain respect. Patient care can suffer if staff are overworked and cannot provide quality care.

Consequences of Nursing Home Understaffing

There are many negative consequences of understaffing at the nursing home and this can affect the attendance to the nursing home residents’ needs. Staff members may suffer from excessive stress and this will increase the chances of nursing home neglect and abuse.

Abuse and neglect become a bigger problem as the resident-to-staff member ratio increases out of control.

This neglect and abuse on the part of the nursing home staff can cause psychological problems, physical illnesses, and even death among the nursing home residents. Understaffing of a nursing facility may add to psychological problems and physical illnesses among the staff members as they experience increased stress.

Consequences of Immobile Patients

There are many residents living in a nursing facility that suffer from limited ability to ambulate on their own. They are dependent on their caregivers for all of their movement needs, and often also many of their physiological needs.

When the nursing home is understaffed, it can be impossible for staff members to turn the patients in bed enough times or to move the residents as often as they need to be moved in order to prevent muscle atrophy and bedsores. This can lead to skin conditions or infections.

The Neglect of Resident Needs

The residents are dependent upon the caregivers for their bathing, eating, grooming, and medications. If the resident is not groomed or bathed on a regular basis, they can suffer from poor hygiene and develop sores and infections, especially if the patient is incontinent of stool and urine and needs help getting to the bathroom.

Nursing homes that are understaffed may have problems feeding and giving medications to all of the residents on a routine schedule. This can lead to malnutrition, deficiencies in nutrition, and other complications arising out of not getting their medications on schedule.

The Abuse of Residents

Understaffing at the nursing home can also lead to the neglect and abuse of the residents. Abusive nurses indicate that they have stress from issues related to understaffing and they list this as the primary cause of their being abusive to residents.

Having limited time to care for each resident can result in the impatience of staff members who may use unnecessary force when helping their residents with their needs.

The Prevalence of Nursing Home Understaffing

Every state differs in how they are required to categorize or define adequate staffing levels for nursing homes. This, unfortunately, makes it possible for some facilities to underreport their staffing shortages.

Did You Know

Nearly 30% of 14,000 nursing homes surveyed in March 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a staffing shortage. However, research indicates that as many as 95 percent of nursing facilities in the US are understaffed.

Preventing Understaffing at Nursing Homes

The understaffing of nursing facilities is a problem in society that could benefit from stricter laws and penalties for understaffing the nursing home.

Many nursing homes have been held accountable for issues related to understaffing in recent years through having to pay fines related to lawsuits. While this may temporarily help the problem, there is much work to be done to help control the problem.

Because of understaffing, nursing homes have had to pay out millions of dollars to patients that have suffered from a wrongful death and illnesses related to understaffing of the nursing home.

Lawsuits Regarding Understaffing in a Nursing Home

When someone you love has suffered from nursing home neglect, it’s important to take legal action. Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit can help you take justice against those responsible for harming your loved one and help ensure others won’t have to suffer.

A successful nursing home abuse lawsuit provides financial compensation for your loved one’s injuries that can help pay for treatments and other costs.

Nobody should have to suffer from poor treatment during their most vulnerable years. If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, we can help.

Get a free case review today to see if you or a family member can pursue compensation.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

  1. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2022). “Nursing Facility Staffing Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Retrieved March 16, 2023, from:
  2. NBC News. (2023). “Small-town nursing homes closing amid staffing crunch.” Retrieved March 15, 2023, from: