The push to improve the nation’s nursing homes must go beyond calls for more oversight and better resident care, as the sector remains largely in the spotlight.
According to U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, federal officials should also provide qualified nursing operators with ways to strengthen the workforce and take steps to reduce staff turnover, in addition to providing residents and their families alternatives to residential care.
“We can’t say that…we really care about seniors, we really care about people with disabilities if the caregivers are making $12 an hour. It’s an insult, not just to the worker and the good work they do every day, but it’s an insult to all of us,” Casey said during a virtual discussion about improving healthcare. long duration.
The webinar was hosted by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and comes nearly two months after the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a landmark report on new redesign proposals retirement homes.
Casey pointed to several pieces of legislation – including the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act and the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act – as ways he hopes to create meaningful change in the way which the skilled nursing sector operates.
For now, however, both bills are effectively stalled in Congress.
Casey also stressed the need to take steps to reduce turnover and ensure the staff-to-resident ratio is within a range that would ensure better care.
Although it has long been understood that care home staffing shortages were a problem long before March 2020, they have continued to worsen during Covid, according to Jasmine Travers, webinar panelist and assistant professor of care nurses at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
Travers called the COVID-19 pandemic “a 9/11 moment for nursing homes,” pointing to the current staffing crisis as the biggest hurdle the industry is currently facing.
“We have a greater demand for care home staff than we have supply, so that’s something we’ll have to work on as well,” she added.
The Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021, which was introduced by Casey and others in the US Senate, would allocate $50 million to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct studies every five years to determine minimum staffing levels.
“Part of that, of course, is the workforce. You have to elevate these workers, and that means wages,” Casey said.
The idea echoes that of President Biden’s nursing home reform, which asked CMS to conduct a study and proposed minimum federal staffing next year.
Regarding efforts to increase staffing, Travers also stressed the need for proper training as residents’ care needs become increasingly complex.
Better monitoring, more care options for residents
The expansion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Special Focus Facilities (SFF) program, in particular, has also been a priority for Casey’s in recent years.
In June 2019, the senses. Casey and Pat Toomey, also from Pennsylvania, released a previously undisclosed list of more than 400 retirement homes under consideration for placement in the SFF program.
Casey said during the webinar that while the program’s goals are “worthy,” it doesn’t sufficiently cover facilities that have a poor performance record.
National leaders should also allocate more resources to providing additional care options outside of traditional institutional settings for residents and their families, according to Casey.
For many families, having their loved ones cared for in a nursing home “works very well”, but that’s not always the case, he said.
“We need to make sure that not only are we doing better monitoring and improving care in nursing homes…but we’re also providing more options,” Casey added.