Gov. McKee signs nursing home staffing bill

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee signed a bill Thursday that aims to protect the health care of Rhode Islanders by setting standards for nursing home care.

The legislation will establish a minimum standard of 3.58 hours of resident care per day by January 1, 2022 and 3.81 hours of resident care per day beginning January 1, 2023.

“Rhode Island nursing home residents deserve the best possible care and our nursing home staff deserve the supports they need to make that happen,” McKee said. “Stronger staffing standards and funding for direct care staff will help raise the bar on resident care in our state.”

The bill is meant to address an ongoing crisis in nursing home staffing that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a resident care crisis in our state. Staffing shortages and low wages lead to seniors and people with disabilities not receiving the care they desperately need,” Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, one of the bill’s sponsors said.

“The pandemic, of course, exponentially increased the demands of the job, and exacerbated patients’ needs,” she continued. “We must confront this problem head-on before our nursing home system collapses.”

The bill provides funding to raise wages for direct care staff to help recruit and retain a stable and qualified workforce.

By doing so, Goodwin said it will alleviate high turnover and staff burnout in nursing homes.

The legislation will also invest in needed training and skills enhancement for caregivers to provide care for patients with increasing acuity and complex health care needs.

The bill has been backed by Raise the Bar on Resident Care, a coalition of advocates for patient care.

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