Unpacking the Federal Skilled Nursing Staffing Mandate

April 24, 2024 Mark Stoever, CEO

As though the labor shortage facing skilled nursing facilities wasn’t challenging enough, the Federal Staffing Mandate released this week has added pressure to the entire nursing home industry. 

In case you missed it, on April 22, 2024, the White House enacted a new Nursing Home Minimum Staffing Rule for skilled nursing facilities (SNF) who receive any Medicare or Medicaid funding (as nearly all SNFs do).  To summarize, the new federal rules require 3.48 hours staffing hours per resident per day (PPD), including .55 hours PPD for registered nurses and 2.45 hours PPD for nurse aides.  The mandate also requires an onsite registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

While presumably well-intentioned, this federal mandate effectively increases the staffing requirements for SNFs and comes at a time when long-term care facilities are already facing harsh labor market headwinds and struggling to maintain staffing even at pre-mandate levels. 

Consider these metrics from the American Healthcare Association (AHCA) Access to Care Report from August 2023: 

  • Half of all nursing homes have a waiting list and are turning away new prospective residents 
  • 21% are downsizing, and 24% have closed a unit, wing, or floor – all due to labor shortages 

These metrics are troubling: demand is high (and growing as the US population continues to age), but supply cannot keep up – and it all comes down to the lack of available talent. 

At Smartlinx, we are hearing the concern from our customers. We know you want to provide the best care possible for your patients and you have already been taking steps to retain and attract more talent.  AHCA’s recent State of the Nursing Home Sector report shows that over 70% of SNFs have offered pay raises, bonuses, and promotions, and have taken steps to improve workplace culture: 

What can we do today to respond to this new federal mandate? 

  1. Work with your industry associations: Staying informed and involved in your state HCA as well as AHCA will give you access to the latest developments as this mandate is challenged both legislatively and in the courts. 
  2. Network with your peers: Sharing best practices for staffing, scheduling, recruiting, and retaining talent can uncover new solutions and methods to improve your operation and lift our entire industry. 
  3. Work with your vendors: Technology, staffing, and other providers who are fully dedicated to the long-term care market are well aware of this new development and should be working quickly to provide solutions. 

Smartlinx has been dedicated to the long-term healthcare industry for over 20 years, and our Workforce Management and Human Capital solutions are purpose-built for SNF and assisted living/independent living (AL/IL) facilities.  Our platform is designed to help you not only maintain PPD staffing requirements (federal and state) through automated, census-based scheduling, but also control your labor costs, automate and simplify PBJ reporting, and streamline your other human capital processes such as payroll, benefits, and recruiting. 

We are dedicated to the long-term success of our customers and the long-term care industry at large.  We will continue to develop new solutions that empower caregivers and help operators build great workplaces to improve caregiver retention and happiness – and elevate you above the worsening labor crunch. 

Whether you are a Smartlinx customer or not, we hope you’ll get in touch so that we can help you streamline your operations, make sense of the new staffing mandate for your facilities, and build a destination workplace for your caregivers. 

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