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Nursing home staffing levels in Florida

Nursing homes play a critical role in our society. When family members are incapable of caring for their elderly loved ones, they often turn to these institutions for help. It is hoped that nursing homes and their staff will be adequately trained and perform their duties in a way that furthers residents' health and safety. Many nursing homes are successful in doing this. Yet, still too many operate in a way that is negligent, causing perhaps our most vulnerable Floridians to be exposed to a significant risk of harm and death.

One of the primary reasons for nursing home neglect is inadequate staffing. Without the proper amount of nurses on hand, a nursing home cannot provide the care that its residents need and deserve. Knowing just how important staffing is, the Florida legislature has codified the minimum amount of face-to-face contact required to be at a nursing home during given times of the day.

As a broad rule, the legislature has enunciated that certified nursing assistants and licensed nursing staff must provide a combination of at least 3.6 hours of direct care per resident per day. Additionally, a nursing home cannot have less than one certified nursing assistant per 20 residents. There should also be at least one licensed nurse for every 40 residents in a nursing home. Compliance with these staffing levels should be documented, and the names of employees on staff should be posted each day.

These efforts attempt to curtail nursing home negligence, and they should be applauded. However, far too many Floridians are still being subjected to inadequate and harmful care by those who fail to abide by the rules. Also, even those nursing homes that are adequately staffed are not protected from acts of negligence. Therefore, those whose loved ones have suffered damages as a result of nursing home abuse should think about the legal steps they can take to protect their interests and, potentially, recover compensation.

Source: Florida Legislature, "400.23," accessed on April 7, 2016

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