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Watchdog: KS Nursing Home Requirements Too Weak

A nursing home watchdog group says Kansas nursing home residents would benefit from increased requirements for direct care from nurses and nurse-aides in nursing homes. Current regulations require adequate staffing to provide each resident a minimum of two hours of direct care daily.

Mitzi McFatrich, who heads the group Kansas Advocates for Better Care, says numerous studies show that each resident needs at least four-and-a-half hours of nursing care daily. The average among Kansas nursing homes is a little less than four hours. But McFatrich says that average hides a big discrepancy. Some homes provide the bare minimum of nursing care, while others provide more than six hours a day.

A bill introduced in this year’s legislative session would increase the requirement in Kansas to four-and-a-half hours every day. McFatrich says a study suggests an adequate level of care in nursing homes could virtually pay for itself by preventing hospitalizations caused by inadequate care.

“They found $3,100 per person, per year, could be saved in avoidable health care costs," she says. "That’s a lot of money when you think about the 18,000 people in Kansas nursing homes.”

Adequate nursing home staffing will be the focus of the annual meeting and training of Kansas Advocates for Better Care. It takes place Friday, at the Antioch Library, in Mission.