Los Angeles Times Examines Low Staffing Levels in State Nursing Homes
The Los Angeles Times today examines low staffing levels in nursing homes in California, a problem that has contributed in large part to their "overall poor quality." According to a report released Tuesday by the California HealthCare Foundation, many nursing homes in California have an inadequate number of nurses and aides to offer "basic assistance" in patient care tasks. The report found that 44% of nursing homes did not meet a state requirement to provide 3.2 nursing hours per resident per day. As a result of low staffing levels, many nursing home residents receive less than five minutes of assistance per day with eating and receive assistance with using the bathroom less than once every six hours, the Times reports. Many nursing homes cannot maintain adequate numbers of nurse aides, who perform about 70% of patient care tasks, in large part because the average aide at a nursing home earned $9.57 per hour in 2000, less than at a hospital. However, nursing home officials said they cannot raise salaries for nurse aides without increased reimbursements from Medicare and Medi-Cal, which cover the cost of most nursing home care. "What they pay us in reimbursement is what we have to pass on to the workers," Betsy Hite, public affairs director at the California Association of Health Facilities, said (Ornstein/Krikorian, Los Angeles Times, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.