Newark, NJ- Having adequate staffing is problem in any type of business, but for nursing homes and other long term care facilities, having enough staff is critical. It could mean the difference between injury and death to a senior or disabled person who relies on the others for their care. Despite the importance adequate staffing, nursing homes across the country and in New Jersey are, sadly, understaffed according to a new national survey.

The survey, conducted by Families for Better Care gave nursing homes in New Jersey a passing grade, and praised the for carrying out above average health inspections . The state also got a good grade when it came to the number of complaints filed with state’s ombudsmen; the state received the third lowest number of complaints nationwide.

New Jersey received good grades when it came to registered nurse staffing; nursing homes in the state rated above average in the number or professional nurse hours.

While the state got a “B” grade from the Americans for Better Care, the state is plagued with some deficiencies which prevent seniors from getting the care they need and deserve.

Families for Better care noted that at least 90 percent of the facilities in the state had reported deficiencies and they were understaffed. Less than 50 percent of the state’s facilities scored above average in direct care staffing.

Abuse in nursing homes is a serious problem, but neglect is an even worse issue and is often exacerbated by lack of staff. It stands to reason that if an employee of a facility is overworked, they cannot give each patient the care they need and deserve.

In a recent and troubling national survey, at least 50 percent of nursing home staff who were surveyed admitted that they neglected a patient at least once in the past year.

Americans for Better Care found that New Jersey nursing homes provided each patient on average 2.5 hours a day of personal care. That is above the national average of one hour of daily care for each patient, but far less than is necessary. The elder advocacy group gave New Jersey a “D” rating when it came to providing staff.

Neglect can take many forms and can have adverse effects on a patient’s physical and mental well-being. Typical neglect includes: failing to provide proper nutrition, inadequate hygiene such a neglecting to bathe or properly clean a a patient, not moving a bed-ridden patient enough to avoid bedsores and failing to change soiled or dirty bed linens.

These simple negligent practices can create very unhealthy living conditions for the elderly and can cause them to develop a host of health problems from infections to bedsores. Left unchecked, health conditions can lead serious illness and the death of a patient.

Inadequate staffing also makes elderly patients in these long term care facilities more vulnerable to abuse. With too few eyes monitoring the activities of staff, potential abusers have more opportunity to take advantage of those who are helpless.