Nursing homes have a long history of staff understaffing and mediocre quality of care. The government has proposed new minimum standards to address the issue. However, the director of public policy at National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care says the new requirements will only make poor performers average.
Furthermore, the revised rules establish specific requirements for registered nurses (RNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). They ignore licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who provide direct patient care and oversee significant administrative tasks.
Nursing homes may abide by the minimum standards for RNS and CNAs by doing away with LPNS. It already happened in Ohio and California, where certified nurse aides took precedence over higher-cost professional staff.
How the new rules affect the quality of care in nursing homes
RNs and LPNs must undergo in-depth formal training compared to CNAs, which is why CNAs usually work under the direction of RNs and LPNs. CNAs help residents with daily tasks, including feeding, bathing and going to the bathroom. They have a limited scope of basic care duties. An LPN, on the other hand, has the education and experience to perform the following additional tasks:
- Monitor vital signs
- Change bandages
- Insert catheters
- Administer medication and vaccinations
- Collects urine and blood samples
- Perform emergency CPRs
- Look after patients with tracheostomy tubes and ventilators
- Feed patients through nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes
LPNs can usually perform more specialized tasks under the supervision of RNs. Because of the new rules, the CNAs may have to take over the duties of the LPNs. CNAs not only lack the training to execute administrative tasks, but they are also overworked and under compensated. They will have more responsibilities for less pay, which is great for nursing homes, but the patients and residents will suffer.
How inadequate quality of care can lead residents to suffer
People often bring their loved ones to nursing homes so they can receive professional and high-quality care. The problem is that nursing homes are in the business of making money, which means they take in residents despite lacking staff and resources. If a resident sustained injuries or is showing signs of malnutrition and dehydration, it could be due to nursing home abuse and neglect. It is unethical, and legal options are available to family members seeking justice.
The nursing home has a duty of care to its residents. They should fulfill their obligations with due prudence and a reasonable standard of care.