Nursing Shortage Staff Plagues Nursing Homes

A recent study on the appropriateness of minimum nurse staff levels concluded that 98% of nursing homes in New York have nursing levels that fall in the range where quality of care was shown to suffer. This report was conducted by The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Reports linking quality of care and staffing ratios date back to at least 1971. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued multiple reports calling for increased staffing ratios. However, the nursing shortage has seen the ratios dip lower and lower as this current wave of reduced nursing staff grips the country's heath care industry and affects us all.

Now is the time for legislation to mandate staffing ratios on both state and federal levels. The over 65 population is increasing both nationally and in New York State. A population projection by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the population of people in New York age 65 and older will increase by 60% between 2004 and 2030. Not only is the aging population growing but the diabetes epidemic will also increase the number of older people who will need help with activities of daily living and disease management-services provided by nursing homes. We must ensure that nursing homes will have sufficient staff to care for our aging population as they grow in number and dependency.

Nursing home residents, their families and nurses have been waiting while others are debating issues such as cost and nursing shortage. The shortage of nurse educators (RN to MSN) is causing a bottle up in the educational system leading many qualified nursing candidates to seek an alternative career path. It is time for our representatives to acknowledge the link between quality of care and nurse staffing ratios. Residents are suffering from lack of care. Nursing home staff is sustaining injuries due to staff shortages. In order for nursing home residents to receive the care the need and for staff to be able to properly care for residents, they must be given a guarantee that our nursing homes will be staffed appropriately.