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Should personal care attendants staff nursing homes full time?

Anyone with a parent in a nursing home knows how critical nursing home staff can be. We want our elderly loved ones to be given care from only the most well-trained, professional staff and medical experts. When people with less training and medical knowledge, like personal care attendants (PCAs), are put on nursing home staffs full-time, the quality of care could suffer greatly.

A New Bill Proposed in Florida

It looks like the level of care required for nursing home staff could take a significant hit. According to the Orlando Sentinel back in February, a new bill could allow nursing homes to staff PCAs full time. This story was confirmed by WCJB20 online, which states that the Florida House of Representatives have given temporary approval to this plan.

Although this proposal might not seem groundbreaking on the surface, there are significant issues if this bill is passed into law.

Support for The Bill

Most likely, this bill is gaining support from the owners and operators of nursing homes who are interested in minimizing overhead. However, as the Orlando Sentinel article mentions, these owners are usually for-profit organizations looking more at their profitability than at providing the highest level of care to their residents.

Problems With This Bill

The Sentinel article makes it clear that PCAs are not nurses. Their training and expertise are not even close to what well-trained nurses offer. In fact, qualification to work as a PCA requires merely eight hours of training.

There are significant problems in this bill when it comes to the care of residents.

Having non-medical professionals providing full time care for elderly nursing home residents could result in:

  • Greater likelihood of mistakes in administering medications
  • Less likelihood of handling medical emergencies appropriately
  • Less ability to recognize developing health problems in residents
  • Greater difficultly in providing appropriate daily care, much of which requires medical knowledge and experience
  • Greater challenges providing the specialized care required by residents with major issues like Alzheimer’s disease, feeding tubes or wheelchairs

This list represents a small sampling of potential problems that could arise if this bill is passed into law.

The fact is that a bill like this being passed into law would result in drastically reduced quality of care for elderly residents throughout the state of Florida.

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