Pay attention to your nursing home's staff ratio

When you choose a nursing home in Illinois for a loved one, you spend time making sure it's the right fit. You might think that you can rest easy once you choose, but the truth is that you should never stop reviewing the nursing home's services.

Nursing homes have an obligation to take care of their patients well and to make sure that they receive their medications on time, get to the restroom when needed, eat regularly and drink enough water. They're obligated to take care of your loved one's mental and physical needs.

Know if your loved one has access to enough care

One of the most important things to keep an eye on is the ratio of staff members to nursing home residents. To do this, you need to get the total number of licensed nurses and the number of residents in the facility. Divide residents by the number of licensed nurses to see the staffing ratio. Smaller ratios, like 2 to 1 or 3 to 1, are better. Staffing ratios should be higher in homes where residents need more advanced care.

You also want to look into how much time each resident gets with a nurse each day. For example, the RNs might spend an average of two hours with each resident if there is a smaller ratio compared to 30 minutes a day with a larger ratio.

Why do high staff numbers matter?

High staff numbers are vital for a few reasons. For example, you want to make sure your loved one will get care when they need it. If they press a call button, the response time should be short. If it's not, they could be hurt or in pain with no way to get help.

Another reason to choose a nursing home with a smaller staff-to-patient ratio is because the staff can become more familiar with your loved one. The more familiar they are, the more likely they are to recognize when your loved one isn't feeling well or is not improving with medications or treatments.

Overall, everything runs more smoothly when a nursing home has enough staff members to help the residents. When the nursing home is short-staffed, then you'll see few nurses, because they're all busy with patients and unable to stop for the breaks they should be receiving.

If you notice a nursing home you're using has a poor staff-to-patient ratio lately, speak up. Talk to the director and see what can be done to better provide for your loved one.

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