The number of nursing home aides in a given facility is directly tied to the quality of care at that site. These are the staffers responsible for the day-to-day basic care needs, such as eating, bathing, dressing, and administering medications. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways nursing home administrators cut corners is by slashing the number of aides at any given time.
In fact, if you look at nursing home facilities with high rates of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect, one of the things you’ll find they likely have in common is low staffing numbers. Reduced staffing leads to higher demand on existing staff, which results in stress and lower job satisfaction. That can result in frustration that sometimes gets taken out on vulnerable patients. It also means there simply aren’t enough people on site to spend adequate time caring for each patient.
Some states are trying to bolster the minimum nursing home staffing level requirements. For example, in New Jersey, state lawmakers passed a measure that would raise minimum staffing levels for CNAs, or certified nursing assistants. The new law would mandate at least one nursing assistant for every eight patients on the day shift and every 10 patients on the late day shift and one for every 16 patients on the shift overnight.
The measure was passed despite protests from nursing home operators, who of course argued that such requirements would stand to interfere with everyday decisions of nursing home managers – decisions made in consideration of each patient’s unique medical and emotional needs. None of the nursing home administrators presented evidence that they were already meeting or exceeding these levels without additional regulation. Nor did they present research tending to indicate that such levels were unnecessarily high or arbitrary.
The main argument from nursing home operators was that certified nursing assistants in general are in low supply, both in that region and on a national scale. Some nursing homes have begun to sponsor workers from foreign countries, paying to house and train the workers so they can fill the void. Even so, operators say, there aren’t enough.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are approximately 1.5 million CNAs nationally, and the median salary is about $25,000. People aren’t clamoring for these roles, and some make a measly $18,800 a year – and that’s for full-time work. Turnover annually in the industry is among the highest of any industry nationally. Some years, it’s more than 100 percent. That’s because the work is difficult, and the pay is low.
In order to keep up with the demand for the aging baby boomer population, we need about 1.2 million additional nursing assistants in the U.S. Research by a local hospital association found it would cost $67 million for the industry to comply with this bill.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers know that sounds like a lot. Bear in mind, though, this is a multi-billion dollar industry that takes in hundreds of millions of dollars just in this one state alone. As nurses and former certified nursing assistants testified before lawmakers, a measure like this is necessary because they have witnessed first-hand patients suffering as a result of short-staffing in nursing homes.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Should nursing homes be required to have more aides? Legislation says yes, Dec. 15, 2016, By Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media
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New Trial Ordered in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Feb. 6, 2017, Charlotte Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog