What started as a temporary program to help with nursing home care during the COVID-19 pandemic is now a permanent fixture. Nursing homes are now able to permanently hire less-experienced employees to supplement the work of nursing assistants, who are responsible for providing more complex care to seniors in nursing homes. Source.
On Thursday, June 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed this program into law, which “allows a type of worker known as a ‘personal care assistant’ to count toward the staffing requirements for nurse assistants, though they have less training and a more restricted role in the type of assistance they can provide.” Because these personal care assistants are now being counted towards staffing requirements, elder care advocates and worker rights organizations are fearful that this initiative will dilute the quality of care inside nursing home facilities.
Twenty years ago, Florida passed a law strengthening the regulations in nursing homes that focused on the quality of the staff and the time that this staff spent directly caring for patients. However, this new law leaves many worried that Florida is backtracking on this, as personal care assistants will not be able to provide the same level of care, which could lead seniors to be neglected in their care needs.
Personal care assistants are required to go through 16 hours of training, are only permitted to assist residents with daily livings activities and are meant to continue learning while on the job. After four months working as a personal care assistant, they are required to take an exam to then become a certified nursing assistant if they wish to continue working at the nursing home facility.
Supporters of this law argue that the personal care assistant program is meant to act as a sort of training program for future certified nursing assistants. However, there is no data to suggest that personal care assistants are actually using the program to become certified nursing assistants. In fact, of the 1,178 personal care assistants hired over the course of the pandemic, only 191 went on to become certified nursing assistants when the four months were over. That is just a 16% success rate of the intended meaning of the program.
There is a fear that, since these personal care assistants are counted towards the staffing requirements in nursing homes, the level of care will decline as nursing home facilities opt to hire the cheaper option over the more qualified certified nursing assistant. This, in turn, could lead to an increase in nursing home abuse and neglect as less qualified staff members are caring for your loved ones.
If your loved one is suffering in a Florida nursing home, contact the personal injury attorneys at Beltz & Beltz. Our team of experienced attorneys knows the ins and outs of the state’s regulations governing nursing homes and will fight to get your family justice.
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