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Biden administration imposes first-ever staff minimum for nursing homes

The Biden administration set a first-ever minimum staffing rule for nursing homes Monday, making good on the president’s promise more than two years ago to seek improvements in care for the nation’s 1.2 million nursing home residents. 

The final rule, proposed in September, requires a registered nurse to be on-site in every skilled nursing facility for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It mandates enough staff to provide every resident with at least 3.48 hours of care each day. And it beefs up rules for assessing the care needs of every resident, which will boost staff numbers above the minimum to care for sicker residents.

For a facility with 100 residents, it translates to a minimum of two or three registered nurses and at least 10 or 11 nurse aides per shift, as well as two additional staffers who could be nurses or aides per shift, according to the administration’s interpretation of its new formula. Set to phase in over the next few years, the mandate will replace the current vague standard that gives operators wide latitude on how to staff their facilities.

While the administration has said the rule will improve care, industry lobbyists have said it’s unworkable, with staffing goals that will be impossible to achieve because of a shortage of workers.

The administration received 47,000 public comments on the rule since it was proposed last September. They included observations of people lying in their own filth for hours, not being fed appropriately and being left on the floor too long after falling, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said in an interview Monday.

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Source: Washington Post, 22 April 2024


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