Insufficient staff levels and inadequate training of staff in nursing homes are major contributing factors to many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. Legislators in Virginia as well as in the federal government recognize this problem and are taking steps to act on this issue.
Virginia’s nursing home staffing bill
The Virginia Legislature recently passed a bill that would require nursing homes in the commonwealth to provide each nursing home resident with 3.08 hours of nursing care daily. The bill is now at the governor’s desk awaiting approval.
Virginia’s nursing home staff bill is unique, as it permits any type of nurse to fulfill the requisite daily care. The bill also gives the state health commissioner the ability to waive penalties nursing homes in violation of the law would face, if the nursing home can demonstrate they have made a good-faith effort to hire and train enough staff.
Will federal law act on the issue?
However, Virginia’s new bill, once enacted, may not be in force long. This is because the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is developing its own nursing home staffing rule.
It is expected that the federal rule would mandate that nursing home residents in the United States receive 4.1 hours of nursing care daily. This would basically render Virginia’s nursing home staffing requirement ineffective, as the federal requirement would trump the state requirement.
Still, the Virginia bill would help nursing home residents receive adequate care and is a way to address the fact that inadequate staff levels and insufficient training of staff can seriously harm residents and lead to acts of nursing home abuse or neglect. And if the CMS rule is enacted, it will provide further prote