Nancy LeaMond: Don’t cut nursing care in Florida’s nursing homes

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AARP urges the Governor to veto HB 1239.

The eyes of American families across the country are on Florida right now. Nursing staffing standards protect vulnerable seniors in nursing homes who count on and deserve high-quality care.

But that will all change if Gov. Ron DeSantis does not veto HB 1239.

It’s no secret that there is a direct correlation between the quality of resident care and nursing staff levels in nursing homes. However, right now, legislation is on its way to DeSantis that will lower Florida’s nursing staff standards, taking nursing care out of nursing homes and putting our loved ones in harm’s way. HB 1239 will cut nursing care by 20% — from 2.5 hours daily of Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) care per resident to just 2.0 hours.

What do these numbers mean for seniors needing quality care by trained nursing professionals? It means nursing home residents will — among other things — sit in soiled clothes longer, be turned or repositioned less frequently, and go without timely medication administration or eating. These issues can lead to sepsis, urinary tract infections, pressure or bedsores, cognitive decline, or even death.

HB 1239 would also redefine direct nursing care, replacing CNA staffing hours with workers who are not trained to provide bedside care. Dietary, therapeutic, and mental health professionals provide critical care, but they do not change diapers, give baths, or move patients to prevent bedsores, as CNAs do. For the sake of our loved ones, their quality of life and dignity, and the very nursing care staff charged with this demanding work, reducing the amount of CNA staff to support these activities of daily living cannot and should not happen.

Beyond the immediate impact of this legislation on some of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, HB 1239 makes no sense at a variety of levels as we look to the future. For example, we know that today’s nursing home residents have challenging health needs, such as dementia. CNAs are a critical, yet undervalued, piece of the long-term care industry in Florida and across the country. Going forward, the last thing CNAs need is less time to do their jobs, less time to give a frail elderly individual the dignity of a clean diaper.

The nursing home industry continues to blame quality of care concerns on a workforce shortage. However, if Florida reduces minimum nursing staffing levels, nursing homes will have even fewer CNAs to provide care for the same number of residents, likely exacerbating staff burnout and turnover in the years to come.

There are many ways to address the workforce shortage that nursing homes face without reducing nursing staffing standards. Unfortunately, the nursing home industry repeatedly expresses no interest in alternative solutions; it is laser-focused on reducing nursing staffing standards as an easy, quick fix for its bottom-line woes. Florida’s nursing home residents and their families deserve better than HB 1239.

Just last year, DeSantis made his position clear by saying, “To our seniors — we will continue to put you first.”

AARP urges the Governor to veto HB 1239.

By doing so, he will be signaling to seniors and their families in Florida and across the country that he will continue to protect them when they are most vulnerable and provide them with the dignity American seniors deserve.

___

Nancy LeaMond is Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer at AARP.

Guest Author


17 comments

  • Charles Short

    April 4, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    The nursing standards were part of legislation that also shields against lawsuits that may be filed against nursing homes…….so maybe we need to be trading off some of those protections ,when the standards are downgraded

  • Phil stephenson

    April 6, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Desantis recant this

  • william todd

    April 6, 2022 at 10:56 am

    what a shame..wait till these polticians end up in a nursing home ..they dont have much to do but pick on the old people shame shame..

  • Barbara Simmonds

    April 6, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    They are short staffed already. Cutting more is criminal and cannot adequately take care of patients/residents

  • Guerra F Guerra

    April 6, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    Please obtain the name of the politician who present the SB-1239, his full name and his position as an official so we know who this criminal is.
    Gerald F. Guerra

  • Therese Beaudry

    April 6, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Our seniors are already vulnerable, this will be nothing short of cruelty. No way to treat our aging population. Desantis might consider doing the right thing or it just might come back to haunt him

  • WILLIAM G. IRVAN

    April 6, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    HB1239 is a true representation of how Floridas government leaders believe seniors in nursing homes should be mistreated. Vote them out.

  • Mary Workman

    April 6, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Please Gov. Desantis,
    Please veto this bill/ Our seniors need more help/ Don’t take a way what they have?!

  • Ron Kirkland

    April 6, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    Nursing homes are already way under staffed leaving patients in diapers for hours on end and not even enough nurses to provide medications on time! VETO

  • Michael Dosie

    April 6, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    This reminds me of the ridiculous “Can’t say ‘gay’” Bill, in that the Bill does NOT say you cannot say “gay.” Likewise with this bill—HB 1239—it does NOT “lower Florida’s nursing staff standards” as Ms. LeaMond contends. This bill allows the 3.6 hours of direct care required under preexisting law to be met with direct care staff rather than requiring certified nursing assistants (CNA) and nurse staffing to provide all of those hours of care—which can be easily accommodated by regular staffers who are already trained.
    In addition, Certified Nurse Assistants will still be caring for the patients but for two hours instead of 2 ½ hours.
    Furthermore, the feeding assistants who have completed a feeding assistant training program will be feeding the patients.
    It seems as though Ms. LeaMond is only on a mission from the unions. Don’t pay her any mind as I see everyone who replied are scared to death all their loved ones are now going to die if the Bill is signed. Puleeze!

    • Raymonde Etienne

      April 7, 2022 at 11:18 am

      For me it just because Desantis doesn’t know what to do ! He looks like a big joke since he wanted to undermine the safety precaution about covid. He was governor when when millions of people died every! Him and Trump were where there, and he never open his mouth until the covid fading away! Now he came with political agenda .I am a nursing assistant worked at a nursing for 7 years Every department have their own work to do and the people who created nursing home knows how to manage them .Put your political business out of our love one’s health! Please go through hell! You apply a criminal state surgeon General to say what your and lie to the population already! We can’t take more! You don’t have any health care knowledge! Stay away from it!

  • Patricia J Thompson

    April 6, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    We should be increasing Nursing care in Homes. MOre Dementia and More debilitating cancers, and movement disorders means we need more NURSING CARE. We need to fund schools to provide for the shortages that are coming.

  • Marshall D Trubow

    April 6, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    Only pass this legislation if you and your family are willing to accept this care for yourselves and your loved ones. Otherwise, this needs to be vetoed.

  • Errol Embree

    April 6, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    Desantis only cares about his political ambitions, We must make him listen to the people of Florida!!!

  • Janet Bumgarner

    April 9, 2022 at 12:14 am

    What a shame!
    Nursing home residents need more time with trained staff, not less. Nurses and CNAs need fewer residents so they can give the time and care that’ each resident needs and deserves.

  • Patricia Duchetlr

    April 9, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    Decrease patient staff ratios. 20 geriatric patients unable to perform activities of daily living, feeding bathing, toileting, dressing, walking etc often need more that two hours of assistance per day. The task of caring for even one frail elder can be daunting.
    Please explain to me and our vulnerable seniors how a CNA with 20 patients/ shift is supposed to provide even 2.5 hours per day of personal care for a each of those 20 residents assigned to his/her care. Do the math…20 patients/Stuffed into a 10 hour day..makes nursing contact 30 minutes per patient
    ..not exactly the magical ,2 hours of contact time this bill allots….

    Veto that bill or amend required minimum ect nursing staff to patient ratios to reflect true concern for the wellbeing of nursing home residents before you find yourself living as a resident in one. ! As an RN I saw the horrors of nursing home “careless” ness, while inspecting them. I pray to God reqularly that I will never have to endure the hellishness of living in one…

  • Maureen Burns

    April 9, 2022 at 10:05 pm

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse leave it to the legislature to propose a bill that will literally kill people. As a speech pathologist in skilled nursing I tell everyone that will listen to me to take their older parents back North asap because if they need skilled nursing (or even the hospital) they will be terribly shocked by the staffing shortage. Just to be clear, the majority of the workers that are now here are skilled and caring people, but the stress that they are under is very apparent. They are human, and I don’t believe that many of them are going to be able to last much longer. Reducing staff requirements is nothing short of insanity , cruelty and criminal. I couldn’t be more disgusted by this negligent legislation.

Comments are closed.


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