Legislation would require nursing homes to publicly post number of nurses on duty

WHITTIER – Assemblymember Ian Calderon (D–Whittier) introduced Assembly Bill 2079 (AB 2079) Wednesday, which would raise the minimum number of direct care service hours for nursing assistants in order to improve the quality of care in nursing facilities.

“Nursing assistants are the primary providers of direct care who meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities,” stated Calderon. “Residents of Skilled Nursing Facilities and their families deserve a safe living environment to help patients recover and heal in a timely manner.”

Current staff requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) do not meet the direct care needs of nursing home residents. The California Department of Public Health enacted regulations that converted the 3.2-hour requirement into ratios; however these regulations do not differentiate between types of direct caregivers. This means operators of SNFs can include non-direct caregiving personnel to meet the 3.2 nursing hours per patient care requirement.

This causes chronic under-staffing of registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in these facilities and creates potentially unsafe living conditions for residents as they are subject to sub-par care and greater risk of hospitalization.

AB 2079 requires SNFs to publicly post, at all times, the number of direct caregivers on duty and assure a minimum number of hours of care provided by CNAs by instituting specified staff-to-patient ratios per shift. This bill would raise the minimum number of direct care service hours, transforming the care and environment in nursing homes to provide a more person centered level of care.

“AB 2079 helps to ensure that direct care staff are available to meet the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and people recovering from illness and injury,” stated Calderon. “Specified staff-to-patient ratios per shift will also help avoid hospital re-admittance, stabilize high staff turnover rates, and improve patient discharge back to their home and community.”

AB 2079 is supported by SEIU California and SEIU Local 2015.