Newly released nursing home staffing data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proves that nursing homes have been “staffing up” for years in order to gain better ratings. In April, CMS began requiring nursing homes to submit daily payroll reports, versus the previous system in which nursing homes submitted staffing data for the two week period prior to an inspection. The problem with this method was that most nursing homes were aware that an inspection was coming and planned accordingly.
Using the new system of daily payroll submissions, the most recent quarterly report (April – June) shows that 1 in 11 nursing homes lost a star due to their poor staffing numbers. After data was added to Nursing Home Compare, the CMS website that rates nursing homes, Kaiser Health News reviewed the findings and found that 9% of all nursing homes received one star, the lowest possible rating for staffing.
To receive just one star, a nursing home must have had an abnormally “high number of days” without an RN on site during that quarter.
A July New York Times report talked to a nursing home resident who described his facility as “a ghost town” on weekends. The newly released staffing data proves this, showing that staffing was at its worst on weekends, something many nursing home residents and their loved ones have already known for quite some time. According to Kaiser Health News’ analysis of the last quarter’s staffing data, there are 11% fewer nurses and 8% fewer aides staffed in nursing homes over the weekend. On a “best-staffed day,” nursing homes had 1 CNA or nurse’s aide to 9 residents, while a “worst-staffed day” had 1 CNA or aide to 16 residents. Considering that many residents receive medications, need assistance eating, bathing, using the restroom, and with everyday tasks, even 9 residents seems like a large workload.
For-Profits Have Worse Staffing Ratios
While there are no required staff to resident ratios, CMS does require nursing homes to have an RN on the premises at least 8 hours per day. Kaiser Health News’ analysis found that:
- For-profit nursing homes make up 70% of nursing homes currently certified by Medicaid
- For-profit nursing homes have 16% fewer staff than non-profit nursing homes
- For-profits have 1 RN to 43 residents on average
- Non-profits have 1 RN to 28 residents
There is no justifiable reason why a for-profit nursing home would employ less staff than a non-profit besides the financial bottom line. Payroll expenses are one of the largest sources of overhead for a nursing home and cutting back on the number of employees means saving a significant amount of money on paychecks, as well as on employee benefits and training.
One of the biggest predictors of nursing home abuse and neglect is the ratio of staff to residents. Overburdened staff are more likely to make significant mistakes, hurrying to take care of those who rely on them. The decision to purposely understaff a nursing home is made at the top level, by those with financial interests in the facility. The needs of your loved ones should not be neglected simply because a nursing home owner is trying to cut corners.
If someone you love has been injured, abused, or neglected in a nursing home, please contact the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti. For nearly 30 years our nursing home lawyers have taken on facilities throughout Chicago and all of Illinois, securing verdicts and settlements in excess of $660 million.
Consultations are free and be requested by phone (312) 332-2872 or through our online case evaluation form.