Proposed Senate Bill 804 aims to loosen staffing standards at nursing homes in Florida. Initially, the bill was drafted by one of the state’s most powerful long-term care lobbyists. Source.
Under the proposed bill, nursing homes that fail to meet the state-mandated staff requirements would no longer be barred from admitting new residents. The kinds of employees that are allowed to be counted towards the mandated staffing requirements would also be broadened under the proposed Bill. Supporters of the bill are saying that this legislation is needed to help with the chronic and growing staffing shortages in long-term care facilities, while those who oppose the bill fear it will lower the standard of care for patients.
In 2001, the state of Florida passed legislation that strengthened the regulations and requirements in nursing homes. This legislation, which is still in place today, requires nursing assistants, or CNAs, to provide two and a half hours of direct care to each nursing home resident every day.
Now, nearly two decades later, nursing home lobbyists are saying that the needs of the residents their staff cares for have changed, and flexibility with staffing is needed to account for specialists working with residents. Under the new proposed bill, nursing assistants would need to provide just 1.8 hours of direct care to residents daily. This bill would also allow for the time that residents spend with “non-nursing” direct care staff (physical therapists, occupational therapists, activities staff, mental health workers, etc.) to count towards the hours of direct care required from the nursing assistants.
Those opposing the bill are making the argument that changing minimum staffing requirements is not the right solution to staffing shortages (as the bill claims). Michael Phillips, Florida’s long-term care ombudsman, stated that the proposed bill “works against the residents’ welfare, and keeps the facility from being cited for not having sufficient staff.”
A nursing home should be a safe place where your loved one receives proper care when they can no longer care for themselves. However, this proposed bill has the potential to limit the quality of care residents receive, which could lead to an increase in nursing home abuse and neglect. The personal injury attorneys at Beltz & Beltz represent the victims and their families when residents are injured – or worse – while in a nursing home. If your loved one has suffered, contact our office.