Friday, November 2, 2012

Skilled Nursing Facilities: How Many Professionals Should Be On Staff?

When seeking the best nursing home for her mother in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Darla compared many characteristics of a handful of skilled nursing facilities. During her efforts to pinpoint the best facility, she realized that the staffing of these facilities was integral to their ability to provide the highest possible degree of care to residents. As such, she began to analyze the value that different senior care professionals bring to the team.

Darla quickly recognized that the federal requirements regarding the staffing of nursing homes are very vague. In fact, they simply dictate that a satisfactory number of professionals are available to care for the residents. State requirements, on the other hand, are a little more detailed; however, they are still a bit ambiguous. In many cases, a registered nurse is required to be on hand for eight hours of each day and a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or licensed vocational nurse is required to be available 24 hours per day.
Because these guidelines leave skilled nursing facilities a lot of leeway regarding their staffing procedures, Darla encourages individuals to consider staffing levels when comparing the facilities from which they are choosing. During her experience, she discovered that there are three groups of professionals working within nursing facilities: direct care, support, and administration.

Direct care professionals are the most important, as they are the individuals who interact daily with the residents of a facility. Included in this category are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and certified nursing assistants. Depending upon the facility, specialty therapists and other medical professionals may be on staff or on call.
Support personnel are the individuals who ensure that the facility runs smoothly. This category of professionals includes maintenance workers, custodians, and groundskeepers, among other individuals. These are the professionals who ensure that the facility, as a whole, is a safe, clean, and healthy place to live.

Administration professionals are probably the least involved in the care of residents. These individuals handle administrative tasks and rarely have contact with the seniors living in the facility.
Darla encourages you to consider the staffing levels of the nursing homes you and your family are considering for your loved one. She advises you to find a well-staffed facility that conducts background checks and only employs qualified, licensed professionals.

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