Florida’s personal care attendant program lauded by long-term care providers will remain in place after state lawmakers codified the measure earlier this week. 

Senate lawmakers on Monday passed H.B. 485, which makes permanent a March 2020 state emergency order aimed at providing an additional source of workers for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to address severe shortages aided by the pandemic. House lawmakers approved the measure late last week. It now awaits the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). 

The program allows providers to hire personal care attendants to help at the facility if they complete a specified training program. Training requirements include 16 hours of classroom instruction from a registered nurse and being able to demonstrate competence in various resident care skills. 

Providers called the state legislature’s approval “a win-win” for Florida. The Florida Health Care Association also credited the program for “addressing critical staff shortages at our state’s nursing centers and helping out-of-work Floridians find new career opportunities in a rewarding field.” 

“Our nursing centers have vacancies to fill, and this program will help support those recruitment efforts and expand the pool of front-line caregivers who perform heroic work every day caring for our growing aging population,” FHCA CEO Emmett Reed said in a statement Monday. 

The program would have experienced the end of the COVID-19 public health crisis without the move to permanently establish the program by lawmakers, the group noted. 

The association has also touted the PCA program as a “proven success” after having more than 2,000 individuals join the long-term care workforce by mid-February.