How prevalent is understaffing in nursing homes ?

Very prevalent. A recent congressional report shows that more than half (54 percent) of American nursing homes are understaffed. Understaffing leads to nursing home neglect and abuse, including increases in bedsores and malnutrition and dehydration . In Pennsylvania, there were 784 licensed/certified nursing facilities. Each facility averaged 109 clients. These facilities each averaged about 44 nurse’s aides, 15 licensed practical nurses, and 10 registered nurses for all shifts. On average, each patient was provided with less than 3 ½ hours of direct care per day. This isn’t a lot of time to spend in a 24-hour-day, especially when these nursing home residents need assistance with an average of about 4 activities of daily living.

Sources: Service Employees International Union Report (1999); Health Care Financing Administration’s Online Survey, Certification and Reporting Data (March 2000); HCFA’s National Restraint Reduction Newsletter (Summer 2000); Philadelphia Enquirer, Report Criticizes State over Nursing Homes (March 11, 1998).