June 30, 2015
Olympia – Nursing home workers across the state are excited about the prospect for improved quality of care, as the Governor prepares to sign today groundbreaking legislation establishing for the first time minimum staffing levels for nursing homes in Washington State.
“I’ve seen it all: residents falling and hitting themselves on the head, residents who go for weeks without a shower because there’s no one available to give them one, even a resident who got outside and fell on the sidewalk, suffering a traumatic brain injury. If our building had been fully staffed, he wouldn’t have died that way,” said Bellingham nursing home aide and SEIU 775 board member Shelly Hughes. “Setting minimum staffing levels will improve the lives of some of Washington’s most vulnerable residents”
Championed by Representatives Eileen Cody and Senator Linda Parlette and passed almost unanimously in both chambers, HB 1274 creates a framework to simplify the nursing home rate payment system and move towards a system that rewards quality care. The legislation also mandates minimum level of staffing for nursing homes, set at 3.4 direct care hours per resident day effective July 1, 2016, which gives Washington one of the strongest minimum staffing levels in the country.
According to a national scorecard by AARP, turnover for Certified Nursing Assistants in nursing homes in Washington State is 52 percent, putting Washington near the bottom of the nation in turnover among nursing aides. One of the most cited reasons caregivers leave the field is inadequate staffing levels.
“Legislators really stepped up to address quality care in our state’s nursing homes ,”said SEIU 775 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman. “it was encouraging to see such strong bi-partisan support for ensuring that nursing homes have enough staffing to keep residents safe and ensure quality care for our most vulnerable.”
SEIU 775 represents caregivers at 30 nursing homes across Washington State.