Florida nursing home staffing changes proposed

As nursing homes and other healthcare providers struggle with worker shortages, a Senate Republican filed a proposal Wednesday that would revamp staffing requirements at nursing homes. 

Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, filed the proposal (SB 804) for consideration during the 2022 legislative session, which will start in January. 

The proposal would provide more flexibility in staffing requirements that were first put in place about two decades ago. 

As an example, current law requires nursing homes to provide a minimum weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per day to each resident. That amount of care is required to be provided by certified nursing assistants and licensed nurses. 

Under the bill, facilities would be required to provide a minimum monthly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per day to each resident, a more-flexible requirement than the weekly average. 

Also, a definition of direct-care staff would include employees who provide services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, along with certified nursing assistants and licensed nurses.  Additionally, the bill would require providing a minimum of 2.5 hours of direct care per day to each resident by staff members who are not nurses. 

During a meeting with reporters Monday, Emmett Reed, CEO of the Florida Health Care Association, raised the possibility of changing staffing requirements to address the workforce shortages. The association is the state’s largest nursing-home industry group.

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