Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013 Endorsed by American Nurses Association

Family caregivers for seniors and professional caregivers truly know the challenges of caring for a senior while they are in a hospital or nursing home which include pitching in to assist the staff.  Many times a Registered Nurse of Certified Nursing Aide simply cannot keep up with all of their patient's needs because they have too many patients or residents to care for during their shift.  Many time nursing homes will even tell families they must bring in their own paid senior caregiver if they want certain tasks managed.

As the owner of a senior home care agency in Chicago, we often had nursing homes such as Warren-Barr, in downtown Chicago, introduce our services at the same time they did the intake with a family for a new senior resident.  They were upfront about the fact that they staffed one Certified Nursing Aide for every 12 or more residents.  We had senior clients in the nursing home who would not be taken for a shower if they did not have a private caregiver.  

Staffing challenges are very real for Registered Nurses who must manage all of the nursing aides and caregivers and often pitch in to perform hands-on care themselves when they do not have adequate staffing.  This is part of the reason for high-turnover in the industry for C.N.A.'s and R.N.'s working at hospitals and nursing homes.

The American Nurses Association has endorsed the bi-partisan Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013 which would make hospitals who receive Medicare funding accountable for providing adequate nursing staff to deliver better care and improve patient safety.  The ANA says ongoing research continues to show that higher staffing levels by experienced RN's are linked to lower rates of patient falls, infections, medications errors and even death.

Similar legislation has been introduced previously in at least 5 sessions of Congress. Some have included protection for nurse whistle-blowers and restrictions on mandatory overtime.  All bills have died in committee.

The current Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013 includes:

  • Requiring hospitals to establish committees that would create unit-by-unit nurse staffing plans based on multiple factors, including the number of patients, severity of the patient's conditions, experience and skill level of the RN's, and the availability of support staff and technological resources.
  • Require hospitals that participate in Medicare to publicly report nurse staffing plans for each unit.
  • Limit the practice of "floating" nurses by ensuring "that RN's are not forced to work on units if they lack the education and experience in that specialty.
  • Allow imposition of civil monetary penalites for knowing violations
  • Provide whistle-blower protections for those who file a complaint about staffing.

Nurse staffing levels and fatigue are repeatedly cited as the primary or secondary factor for accidental events every year.  One of the licensing requirements for hospitals and nursing homes is to have "the necessary staff to support the care, treatment and services it provide" to patients or residents.

Caregiverlist's Nursing Home Directory includes the C.N.A.-to-resident staffing ratio at nursing homes which is often just 1 C.N.A. to every 12 o 15 residents.  Burnout occurs and then what follows is high turnover of C.N.A. employees.  However, some facilities do not experience the 50% or higher turnover because they provide adequate staffing levels, support and benefits to the Certified Nursing Assistants.

C.N.A.'s often will migrate to working for professional senior home care agencies, simply because they enjoy the benefit of providing one-on-one care to just one senior.  Many C.N.A.'s tell us they prefer senior home care because of the quality care they can deliver when just caring for one person at a time. Caregiverlist's Career Center provides information on working as a professional senior caregiver which may require formal training and certification in some states.

Senior home care agencies hire 3 to 6 new caregivers or C.N.A.'s each week, as the industry has grown by more than 40% since 2008.  You may apply for a companion caregiver position on Caregiverlist, reaching multiple companies with just one application.  You may also research Certified Nursing Aide programs and refer-a-friend to a senior caregiver job as the industry is constantly looking for more quality caregivers.





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