Proposal to change nursing home standards may endanger residents.


Javier A. Finlay

3/25/20222 min read

man in black suit jacket using macbook
man in black suit jacket using macbook

In Miami and across Florida, many families are confronted with the difficult decision as to when they may need to place an elderly or infirm loved one in a nursing home. This is an emotional, personal and financial challenge that is rarely easy. However, if the facility is clean, the necessary medical and personal care is provided and there is a competent and attentive staff, it can be a positive for everyone. In recent years, nursing home abuse and neglect has been discussed. This is a frequent problem that no one should endure. In many cases, a victimized nursing home resident and their family wants to pursue a claim after an incident or incidents have occurred. In others, potential changes could set the stage for wrongdoing and families should be aware of them.

Staffing shortages spark attempt to reduce standards in nursing homes

If a recently proposed bill becomes law, Florida nursing home staffing requirements will be reduced. As the law currently stands, facilities that are short-staffed cannot admit new residents. The new law would change that and let new residents be admitted regardless of the number of staff available. In addition, the way in which the numbers of employees are calculated would change. Those who support the bill say this is necessary due to the ongoing staffing shortages. People advocating for patient safety disagree believing that the standard of care would decrease with less oversight into how many people must be on staff for the nursing home to operate safely.

One concern that is being voiced is that lobbyists for nursing home owners played a major role in the language of the bill. The law strengthening the number of staff needed for facilities to comply was passed in 2001. According to researchers, there is a correlation between the care residents are given and the number of trained staff members at the nursing home. This is not limited to nurses. Nursing assistants who do much of the one-on-one work with residents are vital to patient care. Statistically, 85% of facilities were forced to limit how many people they admitted in the middle of January due to an inability to meet the staffing standards.

Abuse and neglect can happen without warning in nursing homes

A key to nursing home residents receiving the proper care and protection is often based on staffing. If the state does move forward with the attempt to make the rules more flexible, it could place vulnerable people in jeopardy. Whether that results in them suffering injuries and trauma through abuse; they are deprived of the medication, exercise and companionship they need; or they are simply not given their nutrition in a timely manner, all can result in problems that lead to damage and potentially even death.

There are common signs of nursing home neglect and abuse that should be known. If people are declining in health for no justifiable reason, they have unexplained bruises, are acting withdrawn or outright claim they are being mistreated, it is imperative that family members know what steps to take. Talking to those who are experienced in these types of cases can be helpful with holding facilities accountable and protecting relatives who are in nursing homes.