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Senators introduce legislation to improve hiring, retention of senior caregivers

Currently, facilities must rely on state-level criminal background checks for employees instead of the National Practitioner Data Bank.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Scott introduced legislation to help senior living facilities screen, hire, and retain quality staff.

The legislation, Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act, would provide nursing home operators with access to existing national criminal background check system, the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). This move would give employers more opportunities to screen and vet potential employees.

Under current law, senior living facilities are not authorized to use the NPDB. Instead, facilities must rely on state-level criminal background checks that can often omit key details about an employee’s background.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics said that the need for nursing assistants to care for the growing aging population is projected to rise 9 percent from 2018 to 2028. 

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The proposed legislation would amend restrictive legislation that stops certain senior living facilities from conducting training programs for in-house Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs). 

Currently, for two years after a care facility is found to have deficiencies, such as poor conditions or patient safety violations, facilities receive a civil monetary penalty (CMP) over $10,000 are automatically prohibited from conducting CNA staff training programs for two years.

With the lockout period, it can make it more difficult for senior care facilities to properly train new employees and retrain existing employees. Research by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also indicates that there is a direct correlation between facilities that are staffed adequately and the high-quality care they provide.

The new proposed legislation would allow senior living facilities to reinstate its CNA training program if:

  • The facility has corrected the deficiency for which the CMP was assessed
  • The deficiency for which the CMP was assessed did not result in an immediate risk to patient safety and is not the result of patient harm resulting from abuse or neglect
  • And the facility has not received a repeat deficiency related to direct patient harm in the preceding two year period

“This bipartisan legislation will help provide these facilities with the tools they need to hire experienced staff and to continue to meet the demands of high-quality care without losing staffing levels,” Warner said.

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