A recently proposed bill would greatly reduce nursing care from Florida’s nursing homes. Crazy right? Removing the nursing out of nursing homes.
SB 804, proposed by Sen. Ben Albritton (R- Wauchula), would reduce the 3.6-hour nursing care requirement to one hour. In Florida’s nursing homes, nurses serve as the captain of the ship. Other staff members look to nurses for guidance and direction. Removing the most trained and highest educated member of the care team will have disastrous consequences. This is akin to removing the surgeon from the operating room.
SB 804 would further slash basic Certified Nursing Assistant care mandates. Instead of the minimal 2.5 hours of CNA care (which is already lower than other states), Albritton’s bill would allow nursing home facilities to provide what is called 2.5 hours of “direct care,” instead.
Glaringly, “direct care” can be provided by non-nursing employees, like the activities staff. This too is dangerous since non-clinical staff members qualify as “direct care” givers, yet they lack the training and experience needed to care for such a vulnerable patient population. A similar bill was proposed earlier this year which allowed “PCA’s” with a mere eight hours of training to replace Certified Nursing Assistants.
Reducing nurse interaction with residents, and allowing untrained, non-clinical staff to replace care givers is a formula for disaster. If this bill becomes law, this state-sanctioned understaffing will lead to bed sores, falls, and medication mistakes.
Albritton’s proposed legislation also softens the punishment on facilities that do not have adequate staff numbers.
Currently, nursing homes that fail to meet the staffing requirements for two consecutive days are banned from accepting new residents. This makes sense, because if you do not have the staff needed to care for the existing residents, you should not be allowed to take in new residents.
The ban is only lifted once the nursing home can meet the bare minimum staffing requirements for a six-day period. If SB 804 is made law, understaffed nursing homes would still be allowed to admit new residents, if they pay a small fine.
The AARP has come out publicly against this dangerous deregulation on nursing home staff numbers. AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson told Florida Politics Wednesday the bill all but removes the “nursing” requirement from Florida’s nursing homes. The AARP has formally opposed the proposed reduction in care.
The for-profit sector of Florida nursing homes has historically been understaffed and focused on its profits, not patient care. By slashing staff requirements and softening penalties for bad behavior, we are encouraging an industry plagued by poor performance to continue to harm and neglect residents.
This is entirely unacceptable. We must demand better from the corporations that care for Florida’s aging seniors.