It is our experience that having sufficient nursing staff is the most important factor which indicates whether a nursing home is providing good care. Nursing home residents need nursing care, and they need that care 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Federal law requires all certified nursing homes have a Registered Nurse serving as the Director of Nursing.
Further, a Registered Nurse must be on duty 8 hours per day/ 7 days per week and a Licensed Practical Nurse on duty for evenings and nights. Federal law requires each facility to have a nursing staff sufficient to provide nursing and related services to maintain the highest practical level of physical and mental well-being of each resident. Unfortunately, the federal law stops there and provides no guidelines as to what minimal level of staffing is required.
There are outside sources of information to answer this important question and tell us just what it takes to have a sufficiently staffed nursing home. The National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is one of the best sources. NCCNHR provides information and leadership on federal and state regulatory and legislative development to improve care and life for residents of America’s nursing homes. NCCNHR believes that the “minimal level of staffing” should be 4.13 hours of available nursing time per resident per day . That is 4.13 hours per day for the nurse or aide to assist with dressing, hygiene, feeding, medication, bathing, therapy, assessment, treatment, wound care, and other activities.
The law requires all certified nursing homes to publish daily the number of residents at the facility, the number of care providers and actual hours worked per shift at the nursing home. This information is critical!
When you are selecting a nursing home for yourself or a loved, be sure to ask questions about the nursing staff. It is the most important factor in determining adequate care.