I just read this article about staffing at night in hospitals. It starts and ends with a particular incident at the Medical University of South Carolina’s children’s hospital. This is a truly terrifying account of the lack of staffing in hospitals on night shift.
Now take this same idea of less staffing to a nursing home setting. In nursing homes, often the residents can’t speak for themselves, or they can’t make sense out of what’s going on around them – maybe they no longer know how or when to call for help. And maybe they don’t know the difference when no one comes. Add to that the number of residents that have no family to check on them during the day, much less at night.
As an example, we recently talked to a gentleman who was in a nursing home for a short time for rehab. He said that night time was the worst part of it all. He said that patients call for help half the night, and no one comes. He said you can hear staff members talking and laughing, but they wait for hours to respond to call bells. The fact of the matter is, there is no real supervision on night shift, and often the staff does whatever they want. I know that this is not the case with all nursing homes, but I’ve heard that same story more than once, about more than one facility.
In the article, a child died – in large part because there was not good staffing at night. This child died with his mother sitting beside him, unable to get help.
Put yourself in the position of a nursing home patient, who has no one sitting beside them trying to get help. The staff is all they have. That’s why staffing is such an important issue in medical facilities – and its not just about the quantity, its also the quality.
This article is worth reading, if for no other reason than to educate yourself about the dangers of night staffing in medical facilities. We may all be there one day, or we may be able to help someone that is.