According to a 2006 report released by former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, 98% of New York nursing homes do not meet minimum staffing requirements suggested by a federal study. In addition, many New York nursing homes do not meet staffing requirement standards set by five other states. The report states, “…about 98% of New York’s nursing homes fall in the range at which, in the comprehensive federal study, quality of care for longstay residents was shown to suffer.”
In addition, the report points out:
• “Staffing levels in about 70% of our homes do not meet standards set in Florida.”
• “About 38% do not meet the standard in California.”
• “About 26% do not meet the Vermont standards.”
• “About 25% do not meet Ohio’s standard for Registered Nurses.”
• “And about 3% do not meet the standards in Illinois.”
Staffing levels are a key factor in determining the quality of care a nursing home provides. If a nursing home is not staffed properly, patients’ health and safety can be “dramatically impaired.” For instance, inadequate staffing can result in pressure sores, lack of nutrition, and incontinence.
In addition to overall staffing levels, the report also emphasized the importance of evaluating the types of staffing available in nursing homes. Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) all perform specialized duties within a facility. A shortage in any one of these staffing areas can affect the delivery and quality of care.
The report states, “Consumers should be aware of these varying levels of medical needs when comparing staffing levels…seemingly low staffing levels may not be truly low for a resident population of low average medical acuity and few special needs.”
There are, however, other factors to consider when choosing a nursing home. Management, experienced staff members, and turnover rates all determine a nursing home’s quality of care.
Ultimately, consumers should visit nursing homes and ask appropriate questions when deciding if a facility will meet their loved ones’ needs.
Website Resource: N.Y.S. Attorney General Press Release Archives