Do NJ Nursing Homes Have Enough Staff? Union Wants a Minimum

May 3, 2018

by David Matthau, New Jersey 101.5

The union representing certified nursing assistants in the Garden State is calling for minimum standards to be set for CNA-to-resident ratios at nursing homes.

“Our state ranks among the bottom 10 percent of all states for the staffing hours per resident, per day, for certified nursing assistants in nursing homes,” said Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, the communications coordinator for United Healthcare Workers union 1199SEIU in New Jersey.

He explained CNAs are the primary direct care workers in nursing facilities.

“They’re responsible for most of the direct bedside care for patients, including feeding, washing, positioning residents in their beds so they don’t get pressure sores,” he said.

“They are the primary workers who deliver care at the bedside and assist residents with all of their activities of daily living.”

But they also do a whole lot more.

“They play a really critical role not just in maintaining residents physical well-being, but also being a real bedrock of emotional support and friendship,” said Bollard. “Unfortunately, many nursing home residents don’t get many visitors.”

He said CNAs are calling on the Legislature to pass a law that would set minimum ratios of one CNA for every eight residents on the day shift, one CNA for every 10 residents during the evening shift, and one CNA for every 16 nursing home residents during the overnight hours.

Bollard said there are no minimum standards set by New Jersey law but there are a few basic standards set by centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

“Ratios are important because what really matters is that each and every day on each and every shift there are enough caregivers to meet resident needs,” he said.

“It’s really important that there’s never a day during the year where there is not enough CNAs on the floor to care for residents because their role is so crucial.”

He also pointed out that “CNAs consider residents part of their own family, they develop very strong bonds, residents rely on them, but you often hear the CNAs complain they don’t have enough time to devote to their patients.”

Legislation that would set minimum CAN-to-patient ratios will be considered next Thursday by the Assembly Human Services Committee.