What Senate Bill 97 Means for California Nursing Homes

Despite all the news about nursing home neglect, most employees of nursing homes really do care about the health of the patients there. Understaffing is a major problem in nursing homes in California, as well as in other states; the number of doctors, nurses, and other staff members on duty is just not always sufficient to ensure the best health outcomes for all patients. California Senate Bill 97 of 2017 seeks to address some of the staffing shortages in California nursing homes. Its proposed changes would go into effect on July 1, 2018.

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Highlights of Senate Bill 97

The bill contains many provisions regarding the funding and staffing of residential facilities that provide care for elderly and chronically ill patients. Here are some of the provisions that relate directly to patient care:

  • Direct care hours: Before SB 97, the requirement was for nursing homes to have enough qualified employees on staff to provide 2.4 hours of direct care to every patient in a 24-hour period. SB 97 revises that requirement to 3.5 hours in a 24-hour period. It expands the possibilities of which employees can provide this care, stipulate that a “nursing assistant participating in an approved training program” can be among the people who can provide direct care. According to existing laws, direct care includes care provided by registered nurses (RN), licensed vocational nurses (LVN), certified nursing assistants, and psychiatric technicians.  Nursing home facilities with 60 or more patients are also required to have a RN on staff as a director of nursing, but since the director of nursing’s duties consist of supervising other staff members, rather than working directly with patients, his or her work is not counted among the direct care hours.
  • Reporting on the incidence of Parkinson’s disease: SB 97 allocates funds to expand efforts to collect data on the prevalence and management of Parkinson’s disease. It requires all hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that treat patients with Parkinson’s disease to provide data to the state about how many Parkinson’s patients they are treating and what treatment these patients are receiving.
  • In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS): Current law provides in-home care to elderly and blind patients and those with disabilities so that they can live as independently as possible. SB 97 continues to fund these services.

Waivers of Direct Care Requirements

SB 97 originated in a climate of chronic understaffing, and it contains provisions for a waiver of the direct care requirements. Nursing homes that file the waiver will be able to operate legally with the staff specified in the waiver, even if they do not meet the direct care requirements. They will be required to file a new waiver each year.

Contact Case Barnett About Nursing Home Abuse in Orange County, California

Is understaffing causing the nursing home where your relative is being treated to provide substandard care? If so, you may have grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.

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