Toolkit for Consumer Action to Improve Nursing Home Staffing Levels

Those of us concerned about nursing home residents know that there are widespread problems.  Too many residents in communities across the country do not receive appropriate care.  For instance, far too many people are confined to their beds or a chair because there is insufficient staff to help them walk around and participate in activities.  Too many people who could go to the bathroom with some assistance are forced to use a diaper because of insufficient staff.  Too many people suffer physically or emotionally because their nursing home is unable to provide the care and quality of life necessary to keep them at their optimum level of functioning, as federal law requires.

As a result of this inadequate care, nursing home residents have high rates of painful and dangerous pressure sores, malnourishment and dehydration, depression and anxiety.  Too many residents receive the wrong medication, have to be hospitalized or die, not as a result of their condition but because they suffered neglect and abuse by the nursing home.  The time has come to put an end to widespread, unnecessary suffering.

The purpose of this toolkit is to help you and others in your community speak out in support of decent minimum staffing standards for nursing homes.  Study after study have indicated that sufficient staffing is key to quality of like and quality of care. Yet while we give nursing homes billions of dollars a year, and trust them with our most vulnerable loved one, we do not require that they maintain safe staffing levels.

It is time that our elected officials who sign off on payments to nursing homes sign on to hold them responsible for having safe staffing levels.  But they wont do that unless they hear from us – a lot of us – that this is an important issue.

This toolkit includes materials that you can use to make your voice heard, including:

  1. An informative “brief” on the crisis in nursing home care, which can be distributed to elected officials, the press, etc…
  2. A report on the cost effectiveness of safe staffing levels, to counter the argument that it is just too expensive.
  3. A sample letter to an elected official.
  4. A sample letter to editor.
  5. A petition form to gather signatures on safe staffing.
  6. A “tell my story” form for people to describe personal experiences.