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Does Caregiver Burnout Increase the Likelihood of Nursing Home Abuse?

Understaffing is among one of the many serious issues plaguing nursing homes. The pandemic worsened the situation as well, as many certified nursing assistants, assisted living managers, and caregivers lost their jobs. This, in turn, left multiple nursing homes understaffed. It’s not surprising that employees tasked with caring responsibilities suffer burnout due to caregiving demands.

However, as a result, residents living in understaffed facilities are susceptible to malnutrition and subsequent weight loss, dehydration, pneumonia, as well as developing bedsores. If your loved one has suffered neglect due to caregiver burnout, you may be able to hold the nursing home liable. The skilled lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP can help you and your loved one get the compensation you deserve. 

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout occurs when a carer, nurse, or guardian neglects their own needs to focus almost all of their time and energy looking after others. Being a caregiver for the elderly is an important and meaningful career, but it’s not for the faint hearted.

It’s particularly stressful for individuals who maintain other jobs on top of their caregiving responsibilities to make ends meet. This leaves them isolated and with little to no socializing time. Isolation, financial constraints, understaffing, and a lack of resources to help navigate complex caregiving duties are precursors to burnout. Eventually, a caregiver neglects their needs to the point where they’re too exhausted to provide satisfactory care to those relying on them. Caregiver burnout can present itself as physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion in the form of fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, and withdrawal from friends. 

The Connection Between Caregiver Burnout and Elder Abuse Prevalence

Most nursing homes cannot afford to hire as many certified nursing assistants and registered nurses as they need. As a result, their existing staff is overworked and underpaid, even with overtime. Additionally, long-term care facilities are high-stress environments and many staff members leave, making it difficult for nursing facilities to retain qualified professionals.

Because of understaffing issues and high labor costs that lead to employee churn, some nursing homes cannot offer high levels of personalized care for every resident. Caregivers who work in such facilities are less likely to pay attention to detail, resulting in preventable injuries or even fatalities of nursing home residents. 

These workloads, especially in understaffed nursing homes, often make it impossible for overworked and exhausted staff members to provide individualized care. Attending to older people in a professional capacity is already physically demanding. Combined with caregiver burnout, it increases the risk of elder mistreatment, resulting in incidents of verbal and physical abuse of their charges. The pressures of working in a long-term care facility can cause caregivers to abandon their responsibilities, bringing about elder abuse through neglect or abandonment.

Addressing Caregiver Burnout to Mitigate Elder Abuse

Caregiver burnout doesn’t happen overnight. Carers can have good days and bad days, which is perfectly normal. However, over time, the lack of support or help can make nursing home staff become burnt out and unable to properly care for residents. Often, burnout sneaks up on a caregiver as they carry out their duties on autopilot without questioning their unrelenting fatigue, unpredictable anger, and loss of interest. Although the solution to preventing caregiver burnout is unique to each person, the common denominator is reducing caregiver stressors with additional support.

Chronic caregiver burnout places elderly individuals at risk of intentional or unintentional nursing home maltreatment. Assisted living administrators stake their reputation on the compassionate and competent care provided to their residents. Therefore, facility managers at long-term care centers need to understand caregiver burnout as part of their risk management strategy. This helps reduce common factors that could lead to liability claims. Gaining an understanding of this prevalent issue can also enable managers to implement ways of reducing the stresses that come with elderly care.

Although operating budgets may be tight, particularly in many understaffed nursing homes, facilities should ensure they are sufficiently staffed. Staffing levels greatly influence caregiver stress, and if left unchecked, burnout can cause workplace hazards and even untimely resident deaths. 

Consult Elder Abuse Lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP for Professional Advice

At Dalli & Marino, LLP, our experienced team of nursing home abuse lawyers has worked with many families who are concerned about neglect or improper care of their loved ones. Elderly persons living in busy long-term care facilities are more likely to suffer from maltreatment or oversight due to caregiver burnout.

If this describes your current situation, we can look at your claim and advise you on the best way forward. Call our Spanish-speaking team at (888) 465-8790, or schedule a comprehensive consultation today by filling out our online contact form.


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