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California Nursing Homes Continue to Be Understaffed

Garcia & Artigliere

Patients in nursing homes will not be properly cared for if the home does not have enough staff members. Understaffing in nursing homes can lead to patients suffering severe injuries, including injuries from falls, bed sores and receiving incorrect medication. For some patients, a lack of adequate staffing may even be fatal.

elder woman fellCalifornia is attempting to deal with this problem. Last year, a bill passed requiring the state’s nursing homes to provide at least 3.5 hours per day of direct care for each resident. That’s an increase from a requirement of 3.2 hours per day before the new law went into effect.

So far, however, more than half of the state’s nursing homes are trying to get out of the requirement by seeking waivers from the law.

Why Many Nursing Homes Don’t Want to Increase Staff

Spokespeople for nursing homes say that it’s hard to find qualified employees. They blame California’s booming economy and the low reimbursement nursing homes receive from Medicaid and Medicare. They also claim there is a shortage of certified nursing assistants.

Patient advocates, however, say that there is no shortage. If the nursing homes paid more, the advocates say, they could attract more workers. As it is, the combination of low pay and heavy workloads makes nursing assistants look elsewhere for jobs.

What Will Happen Next

California’s new law went into effect in July 2018, but as of the end of the year, it hadn’t yet been enforced. The Department of Public Health is considering the waiver applications. It is expected to announce in January 2019 which nursing homes will be exempt from the increased staffing requirement.

Is the New Law Enough?

Even when nursing homes comply with the requirement to provide 3.5 hours of direct care per day, that is still not enough, according to patient advocates. They point to researchers who recommend at least 3.8 to 4.1 hours as a “bare minimum.”

What You Can Do

If you are searching for a nursing home for a loved one, always consider the staffing level, and look for warning signs that a home may be understaffed. If your loved one is currently a patient in a home, and you suspect he or she has been neglected, abused or improperly cared for, you can get help by talking to an experienced nursing home lawyer at Garcia & Artigliere. Call us at (800) 328-2630for a free consultation.

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