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New federal guidelines for nursing home staffing might mean lower ratings, but not lesser care

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 08:10:11-04

CINCINNATI -- For nursing homes, a five-star rating for inspections, quality and staffing is the goal, but a change in the way the government measures the ratings for nursing homes might mean that some have lower ratings for staffing. It doesn't necessarily mean lesser care.

"There's so many dynamics that go into the overall rating of a nursing home that anyone looking at it in isolation might not give you the information that you really need," Communicare chief compliance officer Fred Stratmann said.

The government is focused on staffing, no longer allowing facilities to report their own staffing levels. The measurements are now based on payroll reports.

"I think the change is good in that we're gonna have a more accurate reflection of what staff is actually available," ProSeniors managing ombudsman Robert Vines said.

Vines says many of the complaints ProSeniors handles involve nursing home staffing.

"(They include) call lights not being answered, people falling, lack of supervision of staff and residents," Vines said.

Nursing homes must provide 2 and a half hours of direct nursing care per resident per day. Recent national analysis from Kaiser Health shows several local nursing homes don't meet those standards. Clifton Healthcare believes they've found the answer to one of the major obstacles for nursing homes; staff retention.

"It's a very family-oriented atmosphere here," Clifton Healthcare Director of Nursing Cristole Kindred-Lane said. "I think that helps our employees because they feel like we care and we listen to them."

Clifton Healthcare is owned by Cincinnati-based Communicare, which has a three-star staff rating.

"We've got great retention," Stratmann said. "Turnover is less than 10 percent."

Currently, Ohio minimum staffing is 2 and a half hours per resident per day. Many believe it should be higher. A 2001 federal report said daily staffing should be 4.1 hours.