Wolf Administration Proposes Changes to PA Nursing Home Care:

Gov. Wolf’s proposed regulation looks to improve the quality of care for residents and workers in Pennsylvania nursing homes. The current regulations have not been updated since 1999. 

The Wolf Administration announced on July 21 proposed regulations for nursing home care in Pennsylvania, according to an article on Media.pa.gov. These proposed changes, which will impact thousands of residents in the over 690 licensed skilled nursing facilities regulated by the PA Department of Health, seek to increase both staffing levels and the amount of time spent giving direct patient care per day.

The initial package of proposed regulations—the first in a series of five—focuses on increasing the required hours of daily direct care for residents. Under current regulations, the minimum standard of hours of direct care per resident per day is 2.7 hours. The proposed regulation seeks to add 1.4 hours of direct care in order to reach a new minimum standard of 4.1 hours of direct care within a 24-hour period.

Wolf Administration proposes changes to PA nursing home care which would provide a corrective to the following problems that often amount to nursing home abuse and neglect in Pennsylvania nursing homes:

  • Bedsores—Also known as decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers, or pressure sores, bedsores are pressure-induced skin ulcerations that occur when residents are left in the same position in beds or wheelchairs for prolonged periods of time. Bed sores can occur as a result of low staffing or an insufficient amount of direct patient care.
  • Falls—Low staffing and other impediments to attending to fall protocols in PA nursing homes can contribute to resident falls. Nursing home falls by elderly residents can result in serious injuries and might lead to the decline of independence and/or quality of life of residents.
  • MalnutritionNursing home malnutrition happens when residents’ proper nutritional levels are not adequately maintained, which can result in Pennsylvania nursing homes when low staffing and insufficient direct care prevents care providers from ensuring residents are fully and safely fed according to individual nutritional needs.
  • Dehydration—Nursing home dehydration can occur in PA nursing homes when caregivers do not properly monitor the fluid intake of residents. Dehydration can occur quickly, and low staffing levels and inadequate direct care can impact workers’ ability to closely monitor residents for dehydration.
  • InfectionsIssues with staffing, training, and supplies can contribute to the development of infections among residents in PA nursing homes. When infection protocol cannot be maintained and residents develop infections, the results can be serious, and even deadly.

According to the article, the proposed regulation stems from research and input from industry experts and stakeholders as well as from information gleaned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed changes have been submitted to the general assembly for review. Meanwhile, the PA Department of Health is developing the four other regulation proposal packages, which will pertain to issues such as:

  • Change of nursing home ownership
  • Nursing home staff development
  • Nursing home staffing ratios
  • Nursing home infection control and prevention

Protecting Your Loved One

It is important to ensure that the Philadelphia/PA or NJ nursing home where your loved one lives provides a safe, nurturing environment. At all times, Pennsylvania and New Jersey nursing homes are required to meet specific health and safety requirements and to protect the physical, mental, and psycho/social well-being of their residents. This includes ensuring adequate, quality staffing. Should you have concerns about a Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing home during COVID-19, or if you suspect neglect, abuse, or fraud has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.