Nursing homes provide care and support to older adults and are especially important for those who may have health conditions that need specialized attention. However, many of these facilities lack adequate staffing. This can lead to a range of adverse consequences, including an increased risk of falls among residents.
Understanding the relationship between understaffed nursing homes and fall risks helps improve the quality of care given to the nation’s aging population.
Older adults often need help with mobility, particularly if they have mobility limitations or cognitive impairments. When there is a shortage of staff, residents may not receive the timely help they need to move around safely. This lack of supervision can lead to falls, resulting in injuries that proper staffing levels could have prevented.
In understaffed nursing homes, residents who request help or fall may face significant delays in receiving care. These delays are particularly concerning when older adults need to move from their beds or use the restroom. Prolonged waiting times for help can lead to residents attempting to move independently. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of falls and associated injuries.
Limited exercise and rehabilitation
Effective fall prevention programs in nursing homes often include exercise and rehabilitation services. These activities aim to help residents maintain their strength, balance and mobility. However, understaffed facilities may struggle to provide these services. As a result, older adults may experience physical decline, making them more susceptible to falls.
Environmental factors in nursing homes can also contribute to fall risks. Understaffing may lead to inadequate monitoring and maintenance of these hazards. Examples of environmental hazards include wet or slippery floors, improper lighting and cluttered hallways.
The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living report that 94% of American nursing homes face staffing shortages. As a result, the vast majority of residents living in these facilities face heightened fall risks that increase their chances of experiencing fall-related injuries.