Making personal care attendants permanent
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - The Florida House gave tentative approval for nursing homes to substitute a new class of employees known a Personal Care Attendants for some of the duties of Certified Nursing Assistants Wednesday.
AARP and others argue the homes want to get by on the cheap to fill required hours of care, but the homes have said without PCA’s, meeting requirements for care will be almost impossible.
Before COVID, nursing homes were already facing staffing shortages. “We have a workforce crisis. We need to bring more people into our buildings,” said Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association. To help fill the vacancies, the state approved the use of personal care attendants by emergency order.
Representative Sam Garrison is sponsoring legislation to make the PCA’s permanent. “Hopefully, we want to see more CNA positions that are vacant now, filled. We want to see more and more people in these positions,” said Garrison. Right now, there are about 7,000 vacancies statewide. Certified Nursing Assistants are required by law to provide an average of two and a half hours of care a day to each resident.
They must have 40 hours of overall training.
“That’s what we ask for. Why not require 40 hours for personal care attendants? Our issue, though is the risk that we are putting on residents,” said Zayne Smith with the AARP of Florida. While AARP supports the concept, it is worried about PCA’s having only two days of classroom instruction before going to work.
“You know, they got the liability protection. Now they are wanting to use lesser paid, lesser qualified staff in the facilities. Let’s not forget if they have a negligent act, they’re not going to be able to be sued,” said Smith. Nursing homes disagree. “Look, these are individuals, who I don’t think less qualified is a fair statement. These individuals go through training. They have to demonstrate they are competent,” said Knapp. The industry describes Personal Care Attendants as paid interns that will free certified nursing assistants to provide more hands-on resident services.
In the end, the nursing homes argue without the attendants, care for aging baby boomers be hard to find and more costly.
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