February 15, 2022

CS/SB 804, which the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee voted 9-1 to approve on February 10, 2022, would amend multiple sections of the Florida Statutes to modify nursing home staffing requirements. The bill modifies the definition of “resident care plan” and defines the terms “direct care staff” and “facility assessment.” The bill allows the currently required 3.6 hours of direct care to be met with direct care staff rather than requiring it be met by certified nursing assistant (CNA) and nurse staffing. The bill also reduces the requirement that a nursing home provide a minimum of 2.5 hours of CNA staffing per resident per day to 2.0 hours of staffing per resident per day. The bill also specifies that the required 3.6 weekly average of direct care staffing hours (but not the 2.0 hours of daily CNA staffing or the 1.0 hours of daily nurse staffing) includes hours provided by paid feeding assistants who have completed a feeding assistant training program, that staffing hours do not include time spent on certain administrative tasks, and that nursing assistants employed under CNA training and personal care attendant programs may count toward providing such hours of care. The bill requires nursing homes to document compliance with staffing standards and to maintain records for five years and report staffing in accordance with specified federal law. The bill repeals a $1,000 fine for a nursing home that has failed to comply with minimum staffing requirements.

Direct care staff are the primary providers of paid, hands-on care for more than 13 million elderly and disabled Americans. They assist individuals with a broad range of support, including preparing meals, helping with medications, bathing, dressing, getting about (mobility), and getting to planned activities on a daily basis. Direct care staff fall into three main categories tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nursing Assistants (usually known as Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs), Home Health Aides, and Personal Care Aides.

The federal government requires training only for nursing assistants and home health aides who work in Medicare-certified and Medicaid-certified nursing homes and home health agencies. Such training includes training on residents’ rights; abuse, neglect, and exploitation; quality assurance; infection control; and compliance and ethics; and specifies that direct care staff must be trained in effective communications. Currently there are 705 nursing homes licensed in Florida, of which 669 are certified to accept Medicare or Medicaid and consequently must follow federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements for nursing homes.

The Florida Senate Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement regarding SB 804 states the obvious: “SB 804 may have an indeterminate positive fiscal impact on nursing homes that are authorized to use staff other than CNAs to fulfill staffing requirements and due to the reduction of CNA hours that are required to be provided.”


With regard to SB 804, an AARP lobbyist stated, “When we’re taking away bedside care on a daily basis from our most vulnerable, that’s unconscionable.” Source

If you or a loved one suffered harm while a resident of a nursing home in Florida or in another U.S. state due to nursing home understaffing, nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or the failure to provide appropriate care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in Florida or in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.

Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys (nursing home claim attorneys) in your U.S. state who may assist you with your nursing home claim, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.

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