CMS’s Request for Information Regarding Minimum Nursing Home Staffing Standards
Nursing home staff members must ensure the wellbeing and comfort of all their residents. This responsibility includes meeting residents’ basic living needs and giving their medications on time.
However, many facilities lack the necessary number of workers to provide daily care, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. The nursing home understaffing effects include residents suffering emotional, physical, and mental harm, resulting in medication errors and infections.
As of 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to propose a new minimum staffing standard to ensure adequate staffing in nursing homes through continued hiring and retention. The proposed standard can help protect the legal rights of residents in nursing homes and ensure their safety.
What Factors Are Contributing to Nursing Home Shortages?
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will experience nursing staff shortages through 2030, with 194,500 openings expected yearly. Many factors contribute to these existing and projected shortages, including an aging workforce, COVID-19, and changes in the job market.
High Turnover of Nursing Staff Members
Registered nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work together to provide residents with round-the-clock care. These nurses often perform physically demanding work for a large number of patients. However, CNAs and LPNs often also lack adequate training to treat residents.
Jobs in nursing homes are often low-paying with little to no benefits and have few opportunities for advancement. As a result, turnover is high. A 2021 study of 15,665 nursing facilities found the mean annual turnover rate to be 128%. A separate study found that 34% of nurses plan to leave the profession by 2022 because of burnout and stress.
Early Retirement of Nurses
Americans born between 1942 and 1965 who have reached retirement age increased from 43 million in 2011 to 71 million in 2019. This demographic is expected to increase 73% by 2030, with one-third of nurses expected to retire over the next 10 to 15 years. With the number of retirees increasing, so does the number of nurses approaching retirement. 47.5% of registered nurses are currently over the age of 50.
The risk of infections due to the COVID-19 pandemic led many nurses into early retirement. Some facilities imposed furloughs on their staff members, forcing some to retire early. There have been over 2.4 million unexpected retirements since the beginning of the pandemic, accounting for more than half of the 4.2 million people who have left their places of employment and never returned.
COVID-19 Challenges in Staffing
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing facilities had to take extra precautions to prevent infection, conduct additional testing, and have staff provide direct care. These facilities often lacked proper personal protection equipment (PPE) for all these staff members, leading to nursing home staff members resigning. Employees who worked in multiple nursing homes may also have spread COVID-19 to residents.
Family members of residents who became ill or died because of COVID-19 are filing nursing home negligence and wrongful death lawsuits due to the lack of adequate care and staffing.
A California family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing facility after their loved one died from complications due to COVID-19. According to the lawsuit, the nursing home violated the Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act and fraudulently concealed COVID-19 infections in the facility.
How CMS Can Change Nursing Home Staffing Standards
Individual states took little action to address nursing home shortages. As a result of the pandemic, only five states permanently raised their minimum nursing home staffing requirements. To address nursing home issues, the Biden Administration introduced a range of reforms to nursing homes, including a federal minimum staffing standard.
On April 15, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for a staffing standard and asked for public comments due by June 10, 2022. CMS will likely put forward a minimum staffing standard within a year.
The organization Consumer Voice advocates for the federal minimum standard of staffing to help reduce the instances of nursing home abuse and neglect that can result from inadequate staffing. Their work helps fight against neglect caused by understaffing and issues like elopement.
Elopement occurs when residents with cognitive impairments wander outside the facility unsupervised and may leave the nursing home grounds. Elopement can result in the resident suffering severe injuries or becoming lost or scared.
If You Have a Nursing Home Abuse Case, Work with a Knowledgeable Law Firm
If you have a loved one who suffered injury or death due to nursing home understaffing, the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Berberian Ain LLP can help you seek compensation. We have extensive knowledge of damages you can seek under the Elder Abuse Law in cases of reckless neglect.
We currently represent several families whose loved ones were harmed by nursing home negligence due to understaffing and undertraining.
Reach out to Berberian Ain LLP to schedule a free consultation and seek compensation for your elderly loved one who suffered from neglect in a nursing home facility.