In light of growing national concern about staffing levels, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it will be conducting more focused surveys of skilled nursing facilities, particularly on weekends.
This targeted effort by CMS comes in the wake of a July 2018 study that revealed an 11% deficit of nurses and an 8% deficit of aides on weekends.
Other analyses have shown that, despite the Medicare mandate that a registered nurse be present and on duty for a minimum of 8 hours per day, approximately 25% of nursing homes reported that there were no nurses on duty for at least one day every 90 days.
Conductors of these surveys will report any staffing shortages to state governments, provide clarification regarding how skilled nursing facilities must report hours and breaks, and help nursing home administrators make sure their staffing counts are correct at any given time in order to avoid understaffing. States will be required to perform no less than 10% of their surveys during evenings, weekends, and other off-hours and no less than 50% for facilities named in the new nursing home lists to be published by CMS.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma commented on the new efforts to better regulate nursing home staffing, saying, “Today, CMS is taking important steps to protect nursing home residents…. We’re deeply concerned about potential inadequacies in staffing, such as low weekend staffing levels or times when registered nurses are not onsite, and the impact this can have on patient care.”