No staffing requirements in Virginia Nursing Homes

No staffing requirements in Virginia Nursing Homes

No staffing requirements in Virginia Nursing Homes 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

This week I shared a fact on our firm’s Facebook page: Virginia does not having minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes. 

This means, it is technically legal for a facility to accept 120 residents, and only have 1 RN, 2 LPNs and 2 CNAs that can care for these patients per 12 hour shift. 

On average, that would mean each resident gets 30 minutes of hands on care, per 12 hour shift.

Yes. My math is correct. 30 minutes every 12 hours. And I am not accounting for lunch breaks or bathroom breaks.

The number one reason patients are placed in a nursing home is because their needs cannot be met at home. Either because 1 family member cannot provide 24 hour care, or the family member works. But, if you really do the math, even 1 family member working full time can provide more care than the nursing home in the above example.

Now, you may be skeptical of my example, because I am a trial lawyer and sadly people don’t trust trial lawyers, so allow me to share the comments that we received on our FB page, from actual family members, nurses and nursing home employees: 

  • This is so true. I have a daughter who works at a nursing home and a mother who is a resident in a nursing home. Two different places and both are short staffed and if someone calls in sick it gets even worse. Most of these places are for profit and the first thing they do is cut staff.
  • I used to be a nurse’s assistant and I think this is really uncalled for it not only hurts the patients but it hurts the workers. I think there should be at least two assistant for 12 patients. I’m 53 now and I’m on disability. They need to step up find something that works for everyone. God bless you nurses aides.
  • As a nursing director in long term care for 35 years it is way past time Virginia got up to standards-people in prison are secured better care than nursing home patients.
  • Yes I know. I am a CNA. They are all understaffed. Alot of patients do not get the proper care.

Do you see a theme here? Women who work in Virginia nursing homes are saying the following – YES, WE NEED MINIMUM STAFFING LEVELS TO PROTECT PATIENTS.

Not trial lawyers.

Not family members.

The employees who day in and day out, are trying to provide care to our vulnerable population.

Why? Because if given the opportunity to hire more staff, for profit facilities won’t hire more staff and instead will chose profits over people. And the employees feel the burden of these choices every day as they attempt to care for sick patients, without the proper staff to do it.

If a CNA costs $10 an hour, and not having one on the floor saves you $120 a shift, $240 a day, $6720 a month — wouldn’t you try to cut back? If there is no law saying you need 1 CNA per 12 residents, skip it. Go without. See what happens, hope the nurses on site will try to do their best – and don’t hire the extra 2 nurses a day. Save that money and your $4000 a month Medicaid patient can be profitable after all. 

Now some states do have staffing requirements – but not Virginia. Nope. Our patients don’t need better care.

Hold up, now you may want to pick a fight with me on this part – and you may be tempted to claim that more nurses does not equal better care. 

But allow me to share a recent billboard in my town – which stated LOCAL NURSING HOME, MORE NURSES = BETTER CARE.

Well damn. 

Now you can’t argue with me and gain any respect. If trial lawyers, families, nursing home staff – and even the nursing home marketing people all agree that more nurses = better care, why won’t our elected officials do anything about it and require minimum staffing levels?

My humble opinion – because they are wimps and they care more about the nursing home companies and their profits than they care about the patients, their families, or staff. 

Mad yet?

Call your elected officials. They meet in Richmond very soon and need to hear from all of us.





About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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