Medicare Releases Important Nursing Home Staffing Information for Consumers

Medicare said Wednesday that it revealed a key marker of nursing home quality and is now working on its “care comparison” site where families can research facilities.

Despite widespread efforts to vaccinate residents and staff, the Biden administration’s move comes as COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes rise again. Staffing is a key factor in the quality and safety of nursing homes, but a major escalation of federal requirements has languished in Congress with the rest of President Joe Biden’s sweeping social and climate legislation.

To find new information, consumers must visit the Care Compare website, select a specific nursing home, and click “View Staffing Information.” On that page, they’ll scroll down the list to find weekend nurse staffing details, and below it will find information on nurse and administrator turnover rates.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it has studied the link between employee turnover and quality of care. Preliminary results suggest that as staff turnover decreases, the overall quality rating of the facility improves. Nurse attrition was defined as the percentage of nursing staff who stopped working at the facility within 12 months. Starting this summer, the agency will use employee turnover information to help calculate the quality ratings of its facilities, which are based on a five-star system.

Agency Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of staffing to the well-being of residents, and it is now more important than ever for CMS to issue any possible staffing-related Improve quality information.” . “Residents and their families will also find this information valuable as they see it as a nursing home for themselves or their loved ones.”

Nursing homes succeed or fail by the quality of the personal attention they provide to each resident.

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Facilities with lower nurse turnover may have more staff familiar with each resident, and may be able to more quickly identify noticeable changes in patient conditions that could signal trouble, Medicare said. For example, a nursing home might be able to develop a plan to prevent a shuffling patient from falling and suffering potentially life-changing injuries.

Medicare said it also reported managerial turnover as it affects stability, leadership and day-to-day operations, which translate into support for staff caring for patients.

Medicare’s actions have been praised by nationally recognized advocates for raising quality standards in nursing homes.

“Workforce is the number one issue facing nursing homes, and transparency in staffing is critical to the safety and well-being of residents,” said Terry Fulmer, president of the John Hartford Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving elderly care. .

But one of the nursing home’s leading industry groups called the agency’s actions “deaf.” The American Health Care Association said in a statement that the government should address the labor shortage that has left many direct care jobs vacant. “Our repeated calls for help have not sent any meaningful assistance to the front lines,” the group said. “We need public health officials to do more than acknowledge these challenges, but to stand up to them.”

Medicare said releasing new information for consumers will not impose additional paperwork burdens on nursing homes. This data is already regularly reported to the government; it’s just not easily accessible to the public.

A Biden social agenda bill pending in Congress would require nursing homes to have a registered nurse on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will also initiate a process that could lead to federal staffing requirements for nursing homes. The proposals have sparked a lobbying battle: The nursing home industry says facilities are struggling to retain existing staff, while consumer groups argue that minimum staffing requirements are a necessary step to improving quality.

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