Reexamining California’s Nursing Home Quality

DSCN3343Over the last couple of years, the quality of care in California nursing homes and assisted-living facilities—in effect, the salient instances of nursing home abuse—has received national attention. Back in 2013, a special report from U-T San Diego discussed the “Deadly Neglect” happening at facilities across the state. That report highlighted the need for elder safety advocates, local and national agencies, and state and federal lawmakers to take steps to ensure that the very vulnerable population of elder residents across the country begins receiving proper care. But have legislators done enough? Are California nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) taking steps to change the harmful practices that resulted in elder abuse and neglect?

According to a recent report in California Newswire, newly proposed legislation in our state suggests that, when it comes to nursing home quality in California, facilities continue to fall short. The bill (AB 2079) aims to improve patient safety at facilities throughout the state and to protect California taxpayers.

California Legislators Aim to Improve Patient Safety

As the article notes, California has been investing money (including “billions of taxpayer dollars”) since 2004 to improve the quality of care in our state’s nursing homes and other facilities for elder residents. However, all of that money does not appear to have made a significant impact. Or, at least, any impact it has made still falls short of where we should be more than ten years later. Indeed, “California’s average direct care staffing falls far below the federally recommended level.”

And it is not only legislators who want to increase staffing—and thereby the quality of patient care—at these facilities. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are among the most vehement backers of AB 2079. Through the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015, which represents the CNAs in favor of the proposed legislation, we can learn more about what is at stake in the bill. The SEIU emphasizes that “there is a direct correlation between higher staffing and higher ratings for nursing homes.” When nursing homes have insufficient staff, instances of abuse and neglect tend to be more severe, and there are not enough staff members to report them.

Details of AB 2079

What does AB 2079 aim to do? According to April Verrett, the Provisional Officer of SEIU Local 2015, “AB 2079 will improve the quality of life for both nursing home workers and residents alike.” As Verrett highlights, the vision for the legislation is relatively simple. In short, she explains, “in our [nursing] homes we must ensure there is enough direct staff on hand to adequately meet the quality care needs of nursing home residents and ensure a healthy workload for every caregiver.” The idea is that, so long as nursing home staff are not overworked and facilities have a sufficient number of employees, the quality of care will improve in a noticeable way.

All in all, the article highlights the following goals of AB 2079:

  • Have state-funded nursing homes in California meet national standards for safe staffing numbers;
  • Create “clear, direct care staffing standard to measure staffing”; and
  • Improve oversight for taxpayer dollars—in the billions—that have been and will continue to be invested in state nursing home improvement.

If you have questions or concerns about nursing home abuse in California, an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.

 

See Related Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Evictions and Elder Abuse in California

Can Nursing Home Cameras Actually Prevent Abuse?