Nursing Home Staffing: Factors That Affect Resident Care

How can you tell if a nursing home is “understaffed,” and how could this affect your loved one’s care? Below, we look at the statistics and factors connected to nursing home understaffing, as well as the related consequences.

Number of Residents

The number of residents at a facility can impact the level of care provided. The more senior residents there are, the more staffers the nursing home will need. When the ratio of staffers to residents is too low, it could result in seniors not getting the care and attention they need.

According to Long Term Care Community Coalition’s 2017 study, the average number of residents in a Maryland nursing home is about 72. Although this is less than the national average of 87, a number of facilities in Maryland house more than 150 residents. If your loved one’s nursing home has a high residency population, they may not be receiving the level of care and attention they need, let alone what they deserve.

Number of RN Hours

Spending time with a registered nurse is crucial to residents’ health. Nurses recognize symptoms of disease, help make adjustments to daily routines, and provide the general care nursing home residents need to remain healthy.

Their time, however, is limited by the number of hours they’re allotted to work per week. The fewer total RN hours, the less time each resident gets with the nurse per day. If a nurse doesn’t have enough time with each resident or feels rushed through their meetings, the health of your elderly loved one could suffer.

According to the LTCCC study, the average number of RN hours per Maryland nursing home is about 43.36 per week. This number, divided by the average number of residents (72), is about .61 hours, or 36.3 minutes. According to Medicare’s 2017 statistics, this is just under the national average of 40 minutes per resident, per day. Make sure the nurses at your loved one’s facility work enough hours to accommodate and monitor the health of every resident.

Number of Staff Hours

Similar to RNs, nursing homes employ staff members to care for residents. Each staff member works a set number of hours per week. Their duties include helping residents stand or sit, walking them if they are prone to falling, and assisting them with their medication. Without proper assistance from staff members, at-risk residents are more prone to injury, illness, and even death.

In Maryland, the average resident gets about 3.2 hours of face time with a staff member each day. While some nursing homes are well above this, peaking at around 5 hours per resident, many others barely reach 2.0 hours. This means that, in the wrong facility, your elderly family member could be left uncared for up to 22 hours of the day.


When nursing homes understaff and overpopulate their facilities, nursing home professionals are pressured to rush their time with patients. This can result in a number of consequences of understaffing, which include:

  • Unmet physical, emotional, and medical needs
  • Harm caused by lack of mobility or movement
  • Physical abuse, such as force-feeding
  • Emotional abuse, such as yelling or short tempers

If you suspect your loved one is residing in an understaffed nursing home, they could be suffering from negligence or abuse. Look for the following indicators:

  • Your loved one is confused, moody, or experiences changes in blood pressure. This could be caused by mismanaged medication.
  • Your loved one is showing signs of immobility, such as bed sores. Likely, they are not exercising or moving properly throughout the day.
  • Your loved one is bruised or scratched. This can be caused by force-feeding, harsh gripping, or blatant physical abuse. It can also result from falling accidents that occur from lack of supervision while sitting or standing.
  • Your loved one is dehydrated or malnourished. This could result from lack of fluids or withheld food.
  • Your loved one is depressed, anxious, or fearful. This can result from consistent emotional or physical abuse.

Our Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Can Fight for Your Loved Ones

If you suspect your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse as a result of understaffing, contact Brown & Barron, LLC today. Our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience and have handled a variety of elderly abuse cases.

Contact our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers today. We are available 24/7 and offer a free consultation: (410) 698-1717.

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