US Nursing Facilities Lack The Manpower To Comply With New Federal Rules

( – Millions of elderly people move into nursing homes when they are no longer able to care for themselves. There are strict regulations about how these facilities should be run, to provide the highest quality care to this vulnerable population. A new rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services aims to improve the conditions, but many say the facilities lack the manpower to comply.

President Joe Biden’s administration finalized a new rule mandating the 15,000 or so facilities in the US to hire thousands more aides and nurses. The requirements are meant to address staffing shortages that can have disastrous outcomes, such as missed diagnoses, frequent falls, and bedsores from not receiving the appropriate care. It builds upon a 1980s regulation that was ambiguous at best, mandating that nursing homes maintain “sufficient” staffing without defining what sufficient really means. The update mainly focuses on three staffing levels: registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing aides.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a roundtable discussion on the matter, saying there would be benefits for everyone involved. “For residents, this will mean more staff, which means fewer ER visits and, potentially, more independence,” she said. Families will have increased peace of mind, while care workers will have less burnout, more time with their patients, and “lower turnover.”

The rule doesn’t mandate nursing home facilities reach this standard immediately. It establishes guidelines the industry must meet, such as within two years, the facilities must provide at least 3.48 hours of care per patient, per day, and there must be a registered nurse on staff at all times.

However, there’s a problem. The American Health Care Association, an advocacy organization for the nursing home industry, said there’s already a worker shortage, and the finalizing of this rule will create nothing more than “an unreasonable standard.” Further, according to CEO Mark Parkinson, “This unfunded mandate doesn’t magically solve the nursing crisis.”

There are also fears that if there’s no additional funding for the facilities, they may be forced to shutter their doors. Hiring more staff means more expenditures, and many are already struggling.

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