Weekend staffing levels, turnover now included in nursing home ratings
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Across Arizona, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are facing severe staffing shortages. “We hope it gets better. We don’t see it getting better this year,” said Dave Voepel, the Arizona Health Care Association CEO, which represents long-term care facilities in Arizona. “Although we were the first [industry] to be in this staffing crisis, we’ll be one of the last to get out of it.”
Now, the federal government’s five-star rating system of nursing homes and long-term care facilities includes information about staff turnover rates, as well as weekend staffing levels. “CMS has long identified staffing as a vital component of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care, and CMS has used staffing data to more accurately and effectively gauge its impact on quality of care in nursing homes,” said CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of staffing for the well-being of residents, and it’s more important now than ever that CMS release any information related to staffing that can improve quality.”
According to CMS, staff turnover refers to the percent of nursing staff and number of administrators that stopped working at a nursing home over a 12-month period. “It’s certainly indicative of the culture of the place, outside of COVID,” Voepel said. “You have COVID in there and all bets are off.”
Overall star ratings are also based on health inspections and quality of resident care measures, according to CMS. “We hate the five-star thing,” Voepel told 3 On Your Side. “We are not a hotel.”
“We’re all about transparency. We want facilities to be totally transparent,” Voepel added. “The problem is, is that CMS, we think they’re a little tone-deaf on this because we’re going through a pandemic and a staffing crisis. It’s not going to look good no matter what you see on there because we’re depleted in staff.”
A better indicator of what’s going on at a facility, he said, is an in-person visit. If you are considering a facility for yourself or a loved one, schedule an appointment with the administrator and come armed with a list of questions. “I want to find out what specifically are your specialties? Do you have any specialties?” Voepel suggested. “I want to know what’s the average age of somebody in your facility? If it doesn’t feel right, don’t put your loved one there.”
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