Senator Jacqueline Collins recently joined AARP, Jane Addams Senior Caucus and the Community Renewal Society in calling on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to adopt new guidelines that increase direct nursing care for seniors in nursing homes. 

Under nursing home reforms adopted in 2010, three hours of nursing and personal care are required for residents needing the highest level of staff attention.  However, the law does not require any direct care from registered nurses.  Senator Collins and others are calling on JCAR to approve rules, proposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, that require 20 percent of this time to be with registered nurses.

“In 2009, the Chicago Reporter found that the amount of direct care received from RNs was the factor most highly correlated with nursing home ratings,” said Senator Collins.  “They also found that patients at majority white homes often had care provided by RNs while majority African-American homes frequently had only LPNs providing care. “

Sen. Collins, chief co-sponsor of the nursing home reform legislation, was prompted to act after Bennie Saxon, an 84 year-old veteran, fell out of the window and died at the Alden Wentworth Nursing Home.  Sen. Collins is calling for JCAR to align administrative rules with the original intent of the bill, which is to require quality nursing care for seniors in nursing homes.  Even after the passage of nursing home reform, 26 Illinois black-majority nursing homes – the most in the nation – received Nursing Home Compare’s lowest rating.

Having registered nurses at nursing homes is vital to ensuring quality care for Illinois seniors.  Studies have demonstrated that the amount of registered nursing care is the best indicator of quality care in a nursing home.   Quality care is only possibly with an adequate and well-trained staff. 

“During the negotiations, I was assured by the Governor’s office that the skilled nursing time issue, a key in eliminating racial disparities in quality of care, could be addressed through rulemaking,” said Senator Collins.  “This will go a long way in making sure that all senior citizens of our state regardless of race, income, or geography can count on a reasonable level of care when they enter a nursing home.”

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