Senate Hears Request to Increase Nursing Home Staff and as a Result, Decrease Falls

One state organized Senate committees yesterday to hear testimony from overworked nursing home staff. The elder advocates and nurses assistants involved in the hearing brought up the issue of falls in nursing homes. They told the Senate that nursing homes do not have enough staff to effectively prevent falls.

Nursing homes report about 1,200 resident falls a year, a representative of the state Health Department said. Such falls in nursing homes often can trigger other serious health problems and contribute to a more rapid decline in the health of the residents. But there are no state or federal guidelines on how large staffs need to be, she also said.

One nursing home employee explained that she and a licensed practical nurse are the only two on the overnight shift. If they are helping someone, another resident who needs help must wait, she said. Another representative for the elderly complained that nursing home workers “are forced to work at breakneck speed” and staffing already “is stretched to the limit.”

One Senator said the issue of falls is important because the population is aging quickly, and staff numbers are dropping because of government budget cuts. The governor said that it would take money to increase staff, and a nursing home administrator attending the hearing said that staff are large enough, and she and her staff are always working to limit falls in her facility. No action has yet been taken in response to the hearing. For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.