New Staffing Requirements For Nursing Homes

Statewide Iowa — The federal government has set new minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes.

Within two years, a registered nurse will have to be on duty at all times and most nursing homes will have to provide each resident with three-and-a-half hours of direct care daily. Nursing homes in rural areas will have at least another year to meet those requirements. John Hale of Ankeny is a consultant and advocate for older Iowans who applauds the move. He says the next step is to find ways to recruit more healthcare workers into nursing homes.

Brent Willett is the president and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, which represents the majority of Iowa’s nursing homes. He says many nursing homes cannot meet the requirements.

Rules that have been in place since the 1980s have only required nursing homes to have sufficient staffing levels. Nursing homes can seek a hardship waiver from the new staffing requirements if they are in an area where there are not many nurses or aides. The rules come from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare pays for the care of almost two-thirds of the residents in US nursing homes and many are eligible for Medicaid as well.


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