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Nursing Home Industry Leaders Unhappy With Proposed Minimum Staffing Rules

Published on Jun 30, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

Nursing Home Industry Leaders Unhappy With Proposed Minimum Staffing Rules
The decision to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home is never easy. But depending on a loved one’s medical needs and level of independence, making the move to an assisted living facility is sometimes the smartest and safest decision.

Nursing homes can only provide high-quality care when they are fully staffed, though. But this begs the question: Why are nursing home industry leaders unhappy with proposed minimum staffing rules?

Key Highlights:

    • Nursing homes across the United States are experiencing historic staffing shortages.
    • Current federal staffing requirements are insufficient for maintaining safe levels of caregivers in nursing homes.
    • Nursing home leaders are vocally opposing new rules that would require them to maintain higher levels of qualified staff.

The Nursing Home Staffing Shortage Crisis

Seniors aged 65 and older are among the most vulnerable members of our society. As their family, friends, and loved ones, it is our job to help make sure that they receive the best possible care during their later years. And when touring and reviewing potential nursing homes, there is one thing that is clear—facilities without sufficient staffing numbers simply do not have the ability to provide that care.

Finding a fully-staffed nursing home is a greater challenge than many people may realize. In the U.S., 87% of nursing homes are dealing with staffing shortages. Of these, 48% are facing severe shortages.

What Are Current Nursing Home Staffing Requirements?

Under current federal law, Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes are required “to provide 24-hour licensed nursing services, which are ‘sufficient to meet nursing needs of [their] residents’ and must use the services of a registered professional nurse at least 8 consecutive hours a day, seven days a week.” Nursing homes must also have a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) available 24 hours a day.”

Additional regulations require nursing homes to conduct annual facility assessments to evaluate resident needs and the ability of current staff to provide care. Many experts believe that, as they are currently written, these regulations are too vague. And since staffing requirements apply to all facilities regardless of size (whether a nursing home has 10 or 100 beds), they are wholly inadequate and average out to only 0.3 hours per resident day (HRPD).

States also have the right to set their own staffing requirements for nursing homes and other types of assisted living facilities that serve seniors.

While nursing homes have historically struggled to maintain sufficient staffing numbers needed to provide high-quality care to residents, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated these problems. During the pandemic, nursing homes lost approximately 15% of their workforce—a total of more than 240,000 caregivers.

Proposed Minimum Staffing Rules for Nursing Homes

The federal budget office is currently reviewing new minimum staffing rules for nursing homes in the United States. Although details of the proposed rules have yet to be released, they are expected to be made public sometime between June 9 and June 21, 2023.

The Nursing Home Industry’s Response to Minimum Staffing Rules

The lack of details about the proposed federal minimum staffing rules hasn’t stopped leaders within the nursing home industry from pushing back. During the week of June 5, 2023, more than 500 industry leaders came together on Capitol Hill to protest the possibility of new staffing requirements.

Mark Parkinson, the CEO and president of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), claims that minimum staffing requirements will have the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of helping seniors and increasing access to quality care, Parkinson alleges that seniors will be actively harmed by any legislation that requires nursing homes to hire and maintain more staff.

Nate Schema, CEO and president of Good Samaritan Society, believes that the nursing home industry is willing to hire workers, but insists there are not enough available applicants. His solution to current staffing shortages includes:

  • Higher wages
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Higher bonuses
  • Increased benefits

If these are truly the solutions to staffing shortages within the nursing home industry, it is unclear why leaders like Schema have yet to implement them. Although some cite a lack of financial resources, the nursing care facility industry had a market share of approximately $151 billion in 2022.

However, it does appear as if there is some support for higher staffing levels within the elder care industry. Although Parkinson opposes minimum staffing requirements, the AHCA/NCAL has been a key advocate for visa programs specifically aimed at bringing health care workers to the United States, including certified nursing assistants (CNAs), LPNs, and RNs.

How Minimum Staffing Rules Protect Nursing Home Residents

Minimum staffing requirements protect residents by holding nursing home facilities to higher standards of care. A fully-staffed nursing home is a facility that has the manpower to meet every resident’s needs, including medical, physical, emotional, and nutritional needs.

Ideally, nursing homes should have one caregiver for every eight residents. Staffing ratios may be higher at night when residents are sleeping, rising to one caregiver for every 15 residents. Any staffing ratios that require caregivers to care for more patients increases wait times and decreases quality of care.

Minimum staffing requirements protect nursing home residents by ensuring there are enough caregivers on duty to evaluate and meet the needs of all patients.

Thomas Law Offices Is a Powerful Advocate for Nursing Home Residents

There is never an excuse for poor or insufficient care in a nursing home setting. When these facilities fail to hire and maintain safe staffing levels as required by state and federal laws, they are putting every resident in their care at risk for unnecessary and preventable harm.

If you or a loved one was harmed in a nursing home in Illinois, a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer can help. We offer free consultations and take many cases on a contingency fee basis—which means you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case for you.

To schedule your first free meeting, call or contact us online.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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