What is the definition of sufficient staffing in a nursing home? 

A certified nurse assistant asked this question of Karen Tritz, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Division of Nursing Homes, in September at the National Association Health Care Assistants annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

“The answer to the question, although unsatisfying, depends on what people are looking at,” answered Tritz, adding that the new rule empowers surveyors to ask questions that will help them identify what type of care is being provided in the nursing home.

“For example, they will ask residents and the resident councils if they have enough staff and how long it takes for staff to answer the call light.”

Tritz was on hand to present a review and clarification of the CMS Final Rule to Reform the Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities for more than 200 certified nursing aide attendees. 

The surveyor questions also tie back to the facility assessment, “which will be a source for surveyors to look at and say, ‘What is the composition and proficiencies of your staff and building, what do you think should be sufficient, and how does that translate into practice?’” she said.

Tritz directed attendees to the agency’s MLN Matters articles for more information about the final rule.