We previously weighed in on a federal investigation that revealed the underreporting of staffing at several nursing home facilities. Now, lawmakers seek to remedy the problem with newly introduced legislation, according to McKnight's Long-Term Care News.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky (Illinois) introduced The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act under two bills: S.2943 and H.R. 5216. The legislation was introduced in November 2019. If passed, it will establish minimum staffing requirements in nursing home facilities.
“Seniors and their families shouldn’t have to live in fear that inadequate staffing at their nursing home could result in injury, illness, or worse,” Blumenthal stated in a press release.
What are the current staffing requirements?
In recent years, limited nursing home staffing has become a growing safety concern for residents. According to the Government Accountability Office, incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect have more than doubled from 2013-2017. Flaws in staffing — including inadequate staffing, poor training, and poor screening — were identified as the leading risk factors.
Currently, there are no staffing requirements for certified nursing aides (CNAs). CNAs are responsible for providing most of the daily care to residents. Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities are only required to have a registered nurse staffed for eight hours, seven days per week. They must also have a licensed practical nurse staffed 24 hours per day.
Will the staffing requirements help reduce abuse and neglect?
The proposed legislation has been refuted by nursing home providers. They claim that imposing staffing requirements won't truly address the staffing issues many facilities face.
“There are simply more jobs open than can be filled across the U.S. In the words of one of our members: ‘We don’t even have people to interview, much less hire,'" said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.
Low pay is often cited as the leading cause of limited staffing. It deters prospects from seeking employment in the first place. It is also cited as a reason why many CNAs are leaving the profession. In 2014, Georgia was among the states with the lowest-paying wages for CNAs — with an average of only $10.69 per hour.
To help deter incidents of abuse and neglect, nursing home providers point to The Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act (H.R. 4468) as a more effective solution. The legislation was introduced to the House in September. It would reinstate CNA training programs at nursing homes that have faced prior penalties.
An Atlanta abuse and neglect lawyer can help you get started
Addressing the health and safety concerns of nursing home residents requires a balance in legislation. Increasing the number of CNAs in facilities may be helpful when it comes to ensuring that the needs of residents can be met in a timely manner. The quality of nursing home staff, however, must be addressed.
CNAs who lack adequate training and experience, or have a history of abuse and neglect, are often the ones who harm our elders. If nursing homes aren't properly training and screening staff members, and a resident is harmed as a result, they should be held accountable.
If you're loved one sustained an injury, illness, or financial exploitation in a nursing home, it's critical that you take legal action. For more than 10 years, Atlanta attorney George S. Johnson has helped pursue justice for nursing home abuse and neglect victims, as well as families of victims.
Attorney Johnson and his highly skilled legal team can launch a thorough investigation into the facility where your loved one was harmed. He can fight to bring perpetrators to justice and help you maximize your compensation. To learn more, contact The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC and schedule your free case evaluation.