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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Brian P. Stack and Senator Vin Gopal that would establish minimum certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios for nursing homes was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizen Committee.

The bill, S-1612, would set certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios as: one certified nursing assistant for every eight residents on the day shift; one certified nursing assistant for every ten residents on the evening shift; and one certified nursing assistant for every 16 residents on the night shift.

“Mandating specific certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratios will provide a more precise, enforceable requirement and, most importantly, will improve the level of services provided to nursing home residents in the State who are so dependent on others for their care,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson).

“The national nursing home watch dog organization Families for Better Care ranked New Jersey 43 out of 50 in direct care staffing hours per nursing home resident.  They gave us a solid “F,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).  “Surely we can do better for our senior citizens and the frail and elderly of our State.  These are our parents and grandparents.  And before too long, they will be us.”

The bill would also set forth a methodology for computing the appropriate ratio, and would provide that a nursing home that experiences an increase in resident census is exempt from increasing the number of certified nursing assistants for nine consecutive shifts.

The bill would not affect any other minimum staffing requirements as may be mandated by the Commissioner of Health for nursing home staff other than certified nursing assistants, and nothing in the bill would prohibit a nursing home from establishing staffing levels above the established minimum.

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.

The bill would take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment.

Today’s 6-2 vote sends the bill to the full Senate for further consideration.