Rep. Slater’s nursing home staffing bill passes the House
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Scott A. Slater’s (D-Dist. 10, Providence) legislation (2021-H 5012Aaa) which sets minimum staffing standards for nursing home care passed the House of Representatives tonight. The bill is meant to address an ongoing crisis in nursing home staffing that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This bill is about getting our nursing home patients the quality care that they need and deserve. Our nursing home system was already facing enormous challenges and problems before COVID-19 and the pandemic has only made these issues much worse. In order for our patients to be treated and cared for properly, these changes to the law must be made,” said Representative Slater.
The legislation will establish a minimum standard of 3.58 hours of resident care per day by January 1, 2022 and beginning on January 1, 2023, 3.81 hours of resident care per day would be required.
Rhode Island ranks 41st in the nation in the number of the average hours of care nursing home residents receive, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Rhode Island has one of the lowest average resident-care hours per day of any New England state.
The bill will also secure funding to raise wages for direct caregivers to recruit and retain a stable and qualified workforce. Short staffing drives high turnover in nursing homes. Not only does high turnover create undue stress and burnout for remaining staff, it diverts valuable resources to recruit, orient and train new employees and increases reliance on overtime and agency staff. Low wages are a significant driver of the staffing crisis. The median wage for a CNA in Rhode Island is less than $15, and $1/hour lower than the median wage in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The legislation will also invest in needed training and skills enhancement for caregivers to provide care for patients with increasing acuity and complex health care needs.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) has sponsored the legislation (2021-S 0002).
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