Friday, June 25, 2021
Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times ran this story, DeSantis signs controversial bill to boost staffing at nursing homes. According to the article, "HB 485, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed ..., allows a type of worker known as a “personal care attendant” to count towards the staffing requirements for nurse assistants, though they have less training and a more restricted role in the type of assistance they can provide." Notice that this category of employee counts toward the staffing numbers. The article notes that previously this was "intended as a tourniquet to help mitigate staffing shortages at nursing homes during the pandemic, [and now the] new law will make permanent a program that allows facilities to hire less experienced employees to supplement the work of nursing assistants, who are able to provide more complex care for seniors." The article discusses the long standing staffing requirements in Florida and how that was impacted by the pandemic.
In March 2020, as more staffers became infected with the virus or quit due to health concerns, the state implemented an emergency program that allowed nursing homes to temporarily hire personal care attendants to help amid the deficit.
Personal care attendants assist with daily living activities. After 16 hours of training, they’re able to begin caring for residents and, through hands on experience, are meant to continue learning on the job. They can do so for up to four months — at this point, they must take the exam to become a certified nursing assistant if they wish to continue working at a facility.
The article notes objections by those concerned at the impact of the new law. "By allowing personal attendant care to be counted as if it was time a licensed nurse assistant spent caring for a resident, critics fear the law will be used to hire fewer nurse assistants, who are paid higher salaries and cost nursing homes more, in favor of less-qualified staff." Proponents offered that this new position can serve as a training opportunity for those who want to become CNAs. The article offers that no Florida "agency appears to be tracking the program’s success in creating future nurse assistants. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Elder Affairs and the Department of Health all said they do not collect data related to this information."
We will have to wait to see if this new position becomes a recruitment tool for more CNAs.