A recent nursing home reform bill introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Tim Scott has focused on the difficulties facing nursing home employee training, hiring and screening According to ABC Channel 13. The Senate nursing home reform bill, also called the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act, has been hailed as a potentially vital change to the way nursing homes are permitted to operate.
One of the flagship changes of the Senate nursing home reform bill would be providing nursing home operators with access to a national criminal background check system known as the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Currently, nursing homes and senior care facilities may access state-level background checks but do not have access to the NPDB. This access would open the door for a more thorough vetting of healthcare professionals taken onboard by nursing homes.
The other key component of the Senate nursing home reform bill regards certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and nursing aides. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of aging across the nation is projected to create a nine percent rise in demand for nursing assistants over the next decade. Therefore one of the Senate nursing home reform subjects is the hiring, training, and retraining of CNAs and nursing aides.
Under the current circumstances, if a care facility is found to have deficiencies in living conditions or resident safety, facilities can receive a civil monetary penalty (CMP) exceeding $10,000 and be prohibited from conduction in house CNA training or retraining for two years. This training lockout has been criticized by the Senate nursing home reform leaders as counterproductive as it prevents the training of new CNAs and can lead to lowered levels of professionally trained staff.
The Senate nursing home reform bill has therefore proposed that a senior living facility or nursing home could reinstate its CNA training program if the following criteria are met:
- The facility has corrected the deficiency for which the CMP was assessed
- The deficiency for which the CMP was assessed did not result in an immediate risk to patient safety and is not the result of patient harm resulting from abuse or neglect
- And the facility has not received a repeat deficiency related to direct patient harm in the preceding two year period
Senator Warner released a statement to reporters saying that the legislation would “help provide these facilities with the tools they need to hire experienced staff and to continue to meet the demands of high-quality care without losing staffing levels.” As the Senate nursing home reform bill moves forward it will continue to attract the attention of critics and supporters seeking to mold the legislation to a position favorable to their cause.
For more information on identifying signs of understaffing or inadequate care in your local nursing homes, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Neglect Page.