Nursing Home Complaint Regarding Insufficient Staff

One frequent excuse that is made when things go wrong in caring for a nursing home resident is "we just didn't have enough help/staff/people". As the regulations demonstrate, this is not an excuse but a damning admission.

The federal regulations provide:

(a) Sufficient staff.
     (1) The facility must provide services by sufficient numbers of each of the following types of personnel on a 24-hour basis to provide nursing care to all residents in accordance with resident care plans:
          (i) Except when waived under paragraph (e) of this section, licensed nurses; and
          (ii) Other nursing personnel, including but not limited to nurse aides.
     (2) Except when waived under paragraph (c) of this section, the facility must designate a licensed nurse to serve as a charge nurse on each tour of duty.
     (3) The facility must ensure that licensed nurses have the specific competencies and skill sets necessary to care for residents' needs, as identified through resident assessments, and described in the plan of care.
     (4) Providing care includes but is not limited to assessing, evaluating, planning and implementing resident care plans and responding to resident's needs.
42 CFR, Part 483.35(a)

Illinois state regulations have a formula which mathematically determines the minimum number of nurses and CNA's who must be on hand to care for the residents in the facility. However, the federal regulations have a much simpler standard - you have to be able to meet the care needs of the residents on a 24/7 basis. Since the Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for enforcing the federal regulations, having an inadequate number of staff is a legitimate basis for filing a nursing home complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health.