Trenton – A bill sponsored by Senators Brian P. Stack, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., and Joseph F. Vitale which would establish minimum direct care staff member-to-resident ratios for nursing homes, passed the Senate today.

“New Jersey got an F rating and was ranked 43 out of 50 in direct care staffing hours per nursing home resident,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “These are our parents and grandparents and soon, they will be us. We have to do better for the senior citizens of our state and ensure that they receive the care and attention we all deserve.”

The bill, S-2712, would require one certified nursing aide for every eight residents on a day shift, one direct care staff member for every ten residents on an evening shift and one direct care staff member for every 14 residents on a night shift. 

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“Increasing the amount of staff in nursing homes will improve the quality of services provided to the elderly in the state,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Because nursing home patients often need closer supervision, increasing the amount of staff will ensure that these senior citizens have the attention and care they need.”

This bill would also establish in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development the Special Task Force on Direct Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment. The purpose of this task force would be to evaluate direct care staffing levels in the state and develop strategies for the retention and recruitment of staff.

“By establishing a task force, we will be able to develop the best strategies for recruiting new direct care staff,” said Health Committee Chair Vitale (D-Middlesex). “It is imperative to develop a viable and robust pipeline of workers in order to meet the requirements of this bill and provide better care to the senior citizens of this state.”

Supporters of the bill argue that nursing home staffing experts recommend 4.1 hours of care per resident per day. Currently, New Jersey requires 2.5 total hours of direct care staff time per resident per day.

Under the bill, “direct care staff member” would mean any registered professional nurse, licensed practical nurse, or certified nurse aide. Pediatric long-term care facilities would be exempt from the staffing requirement.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 25-12.