In an effort to create a safer nurse-to-patient ratio, “safe staffing” legislation was recently passed in New York State that will require nursing home staff to spend a certain number of hours a day with residents. While the outcome of the pandemic exacerbated the passing of this bill, it has been in the works for over a decade as staffing levels in these environments have been a concern for quite some time.
To ensure they can meet the care requirements that go into effect in January 2022, nursing homes must now work to increase their staff headcount—which has posed ongoing challenges in the past. Beyond New York, several other states have adopted laws that cover safe staffing. So, what does this type of legislation mean for RNs? Here’s what we know:
Staffing shortages will drive more opportunities for RNs
Staffing shortages in nursing homes are not a novel concept. However, under the new nursing home legislation, staff will be required to provide a minimum of 3.5 hours of nursing care a day for each resident—drastically increasing the immediate need for long-term care RNs. As a registered nurse, this means there will be many opportunities to have a positive impact on elderly patients and their families and be at the forefront of change. With the U.S. population of those 65 and older expected to double in the next 30 years, the need for staff in these settings will only continue to grow.
Travel nursing will be on the rise
While this bill is currently taking effect in New York State, other states may follow suit—making finding staff even more challenging. As nursing homes struggle to fill the gaps and prepare for these changes to go into effect, the demand for travel nurses to work in these types of settings will be on the rise. If you’re interested in relocating, or gaining experience in a different environment, this could be an avenue to explore.
The working environment will evolve
As the nurse-to-patient ratio evolves in nursing homes—so will what it means to work inside one of these facilities. While there are predictions that the staff shortage may increase the pay rate for nurses in these types of settings, other changes may include less stressful working environments, and more time to focus on providing each resident with the utmost care.