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July 27, 2021

In this Issue:

  1. PA Department of Health Announces Proposed Regulation Requiring Increased Staffing in Nursing Homes
  2. Nursing Home Visitation and Quarantine: Frequently Asked Questions & Advocacy Strategies for Families
  3. California Court Overturns "Pronoun Provision"
  4. Consumer Voice Seeking Fall Interns
  5. Biden-Harris Administration Provides Additional Funding to Increase Vaccinations in Underserved Communities

PA Department of Health Announces Proposed Regulation Requiring Increased Staffing in Nursing Homes

On Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) announced proposed regulations that would significantly increase the quality of care for nursing home residents.  DOH announced that under the proposed regulation, nursing homes in Pennsylvania will be required to provide at least 4.1 hours of direct care to each resident in their facility per day.  This regulation replaces a decades old requirement that facilities only provide 2.7 hours of direct care per resident per day.  This new standard will result in increased safety for nursing home residents across the state.   

For years, inadequate staffing has plagued nursing homes across the country.  A lack of a federal staffing standard has resulted in a state by state, and oftentimes, a facility by facility, approach.  Consumer Voice along with other resident advocates have repeatedly called for a federal minimum staffing standard of 4.1 hours per resident per day.  This 4.1 hours per day standard is supported by an evidence based study conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Despite this finding, the federal government has never implemented a minimum standard, instead relying on the opaque language of “sufficient” staffing.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the years of inadequate care and staffing in nursing homes.  At least 133,000 residents died from COVID-19, with countless others suffering and dying  from neglect and isolation.  Repeated studies have shown that facilities with higher levels of staffing fared better during the pandemic than their counterparts.  Daily, Consumer Voice continues to hear from residents and their families that there is inadequate staff in nursing homes to provide necessary care.   

The proposed regulations will be published in the PA Bulletin by the end of July.  There will be a 30-day comment period.  Click here for more information.

Nursing Home Visitation and Quarantine: Frequently Asked Questions & Advocacy Strategies for Families

Our Frequently Asked Questions document provides still-relevant information about visitation and quarantine in nursing homes. 

In March 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised their visitation guidance based on the high COVID-19 vaccination rates of nursing home residents.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also updated their guidance in March and again in April regarding when long-term care facility residents are required to quarantine.  Despite these changes, many families still have questions and concerns relating to visitation and quarantine. This document reviews some of the most frequent questions we are asked by family members. Our responses are based on the CMS and CDC guidance and show how the guidance can be used to help families advocate for their loved ones.  The document also includes general advocacy strategies and tips if the facility is not following the guidance or is denying residents’ rights.

Plus, watch our webinar where we discuss strategies for using the CMS guidance to open nursing home doors.

California Court Overturns "Pronoun Provision"

An appeals court in California struck down a part of the state's LGBTQ Long-Term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights pertaining to transgender seniors. The so-called "pronoun provision" prohibited staff at nursing homes from deliberately misgendering residents.  The provision banned nursing home staff from "willfully and repeatedly" misgendering or using the incorrect name to refer to a resident "when clearly informed of the name and pronoun."  A district court ruled this month that the portion of the 2017 law was a violation of staff's freedom of speech.  In the same decision, the court upheld another part of the law requiring nursing home staff to assign rooms to transgender residents based on the resident's preference.

The Consumer Voice is disappointed in the court's decision to allow misgendering seniors.  All residents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, to exercise choice and self-determination.  This decision perpetuates harassment and disrespect towards transgender residents in their own home by individuals upon whom they are reliant for the most personal type of care.  It will serve only to enhance their distress, discomfort, and isolation which, as we have seen from COVID-19, will have significant negative effects on the residents' health and well-being.  

View the court's opinion here.

Consumer Voice Seeking Fall Interns

Consumer Voice is seeking a Public Policy Graduate/Law Student Intern for the Fall semester.  This is a dynamic and exciting internship opportunity during which students will get hands on policy and advocacy experience with a well-established nonprofit.  The position requires a time commitment of 20-25 hours per week. There is a stipend offered for this internship, and we are happy to assist students in receiving academic credit for their internship. Candidates must be enrolled in a graduate degree program and have exceptional writing and computer skills, research knowledge, and willingness to work on a wide range of projects.

Applications are due August 15th.  Please share this opportunity with anyone interested.

Learn more about how to apply.

Biden-Harris Administration Provides Additional Funding to Increase Vaccinations in Underserved Communities

The Biden-Harris Administration is providing $121 million to community-based efforts to increase vaccinations in underserved communities. These awards will go to community-based organizations across the country that are working in their communities to build vaccine confidence, share factual information about vaccines, and answer people's questions about getting vaccinated.  These awards are an addition to the $125 million awarded last month to establish, expand and sustain community-based efforts to increase vaccinations.

Learn more in the press release.

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