DHS, Eldercare Advocates Outline Problems in Nursing Home System
Eldercare advocates and nursing home residents at a Wednesday hearing testified that the state's nursing homes need increased staffing and a more effective complaint-resolution process, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The hearing was called by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) in support of her bill (SB 526) that would require nursing home operators to report payroll data to the state each quarter.
The bill is intended to ensure that nursing homes meet minimum requirements for the time they spend caring for patients. Facilities that meet requirements qualify for funding that was designated for nursing homes under a law passed two years ago, according to the Mercury News.
State law requires that nursing home patients each receive at least 3.2 hours of care daily.
Charlene Harrington, an elderly care researcher at the University of California-San Francisco, testified that less than 4.1 hours per day of direct care "jeopardizes the health and safety" of patients. Harrington also testified that nursing home workers should care for no more than seven patients, although they often have 12 to 15 patients.
Written testimony submitted by the Department of Health Services said that many Tier 2 complaints -- which are less-serious complaints defined as those "with the potential to cause harm" -- are sometimes not investigated at all. The DHS Licensing and Certification Program "has deferred the initiation of many Tier 2 complaints to the facility's next on-site visit," according to the testimony.
Onsite visits are required every five years.
There also was testimony that complaints against nursing homes are "frequently" not brought to action within the required 24-hour time frame and that fines are collected in less than half of cases in which they are levied, according to the Mercury News (Beck, San Jose Mercury News, 7/21).