Historic Virginia Proposal

Acuity-Based Staffing

A Virginia legislative commission recommended increasing minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes to improve the quality of care for residents. Members of the Joint Commission on Health Care approved a proposal to base minimum staffing standards on the needs and conditions of residents living in a facility. Sounds like a reasonable way to staff!

The Joint Commission on Health Care is comprised of legislators in both chambers of the General Assembly. New staffing legislation will protect residents. The industry has long lobbied against any staffing requirements. They claim that workforce shortages make it impossible to hire and retain caregivers.

However, staffing by acuity is the same standard that federal regulations require but do not quantify anymore. The necessary data is already collected and used by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to calculate the number of direct-care hours a nursing home should be providing.

A commission study found that 21% of nursing homes don’t meet safe staffing levels. The number is much higher for certified nursing assistants, at 59%, than licensed practical nurses at 7%. One-fourth of nursing homes didn’t meet the staffing levels the federal agency expects for registered nurses.

Other Safety Proposals

Commission members also approved proposals to fund scholarships for students interested in working for the industry.

The Commission recommends to increase reimbursement to facilities with a higher proportion of residents on Medicaid.

Lawmakers also endorsed several options to support Virginians aging in place. Potential tax credits for family members acting as caregivers is likely to pass.

Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, is a nurse practitioner who is seeking the GOP nomination for the 2nd District House seat in Congress. She prefers a uniform standard of 3.25 hours of direct patient care per resident each day. In 2001, CMS found that a minimum of 4.1 hours of direct patient care delivered by a combination of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing aides is necessary for the health, safety, and well-being of the residents. Kiggans said:

“There are people in these beds who are suffering and we can’t continue to not do anything.”