Mar 13, 2019

Enforcing Safe Staffing

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The Buffalo News had a great article on short-staffing of nursing homes and the government agencies who ignore the problem.  For example, NY Health Department cited nursing homes for insufficient staffing in only 6 percent of the 1,030 complaints that nursing homes failed to provide adequate staffing to care for residents it investigated over five years.  The state’s investigative findings conflict with complaints of insufficient staffing from families of nursing home residents, workers at the facilities and federal ratings of the homes.  This is a nationwide problem and affects the quality of care that residents receive.

“Advocates for nursing home residents link the low rate of substantiated complaints to the fact that the state has no numerical staffing level requirements for the facilities.  Instead, Health Department inspectors determine insufficient staffing based on observations of care provided to residents, interviews with residents and reviews of facility records.”

“Even when residents complain about low staffing, the facilities have room to argue that the problem was temporary or due to unusual circumstances,” said Anthony Szczygiel, a retired University at Buffalo elder law professor and advocate of nursing home residents. “The lack of specificity leaves the decision about staffing levels up to individual nursing homes.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, is backing legislation that could make it easier for the Health Department to enforce insufficient staffing regulations at nursing homes.

The bill co-sponsored by Peoples-Stokes would set for the first time minimum staffing levels at nursing homes and hospitals.

Under the safe staffing bill, each nursing home’s registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants would have to spend a total of 291 minutes a day with each resident, on average.

Only 47 of the 620 nursing homes in New York State — or 7.5 percent — now meet the proposed law’s ratio, according to federal data from January.



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