As lawmakers look for ways to resolve the staffing shortages in long-term care facilities, the solutions of lowering the bar on training and qualifications are troubling and potentially dangerous to the vulnerable residents who live in these facilities.
This week, the Florida House has tentatively approved a new type of worker in long-term care – the Personal Care Attendants (PCAs). They have been described as essentially “paid interns” that are tasked with some duties that certified nursing assistants (CNAs) have performed with activities of daily living. The Florida Agency for Health Care Association approved the use of PCAs by emergency order to fill the staffing needs during the pandemic. Now, state lawmakers want to ensure PCAs remain in the facilities permanently. PCAs currently must take an 8-hour “Preservice Course” which involves 5-hours in the classroom and 3-hours of a “simulation/competency check-off” administered by the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), an advocacy association for long-term care providers.
COVID-19 has ravaged our nation’s nursing homes. Residents have witnessed a high death toll within the places they call home, faced extreme social isolation, and have even seen neglect and abuse. Continually reducing the training that staff are required to have directly diminishes the quality of care those residents receive.
April 22, 2021 – C. St. John