Nursing homes should be required to have a set number of direct care nursing staff to cover the needs and care of patients. New York State is trying to determine how to quantify that number base don the acuity of the residents. However, lobbyists and nursing home apologists are pushing back against any mandatory minimum staffing requirements.
Safe-staffing requirements have been talked about for years. The current version of legislation that addresses it would require nursing homes in New York have a set ratio of at least one nurse for every five patients. Governor Andrew Cuomo this year directed the NYS Department of Health to study the viability of the proposal and see whether it would offer increased safety to patients.
Over the last few years, News10NBC has told dozens of stories about the care and conditions inside some of our local nursing homes. Something we’ve heard consistently from patients and their families is complaints about a lack of proper staffing to provide the kind of care that’s needed.
“We are here today to be a voice for those in nursing homes and hospitals who suffer, and yes die, in silence because of low staffing levels,” said Mary Ann Spring, a registered nurse and member of the Elder Justice Committee.
Marj Donhauser’s mother has been a patient at a local nursing home for the past five years.
“I cry all the way back (home) because I don’t want to leave my mother in that situation because there’s no one to look after her,” she told News10NBC.
The turnover and burnout rate in nursing homes is high. Then there’s the pay. Certified Nursing Assistants and LPN’s are, in some cases, making close to minimum wage.
“You can go to McDonald’s, give somebody a hamburger and say, have a nice day, and get $15 for doing that,” said Donhauser.