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More Helping Hands for Oregon Nursing Homes

March 5, 2008

Portland, OR - If you've visited a nursing home recently, it may seem like there are never enough hands to meet of all the residents' needs and requests. A Governor's Commission came to the same conclusion, and has recommended a higher staff-to-resident ratio, which goes into effect this week. The Oregon Department of Human Services says it should mean better care for residents, and jobs for 500 to 700 more nurses and nursing assistants in Oregon.

Leslie Frane of the caregivers' union SEIU adds that it also means the concerns of people already working in the care centers are being addressed.

"Their number one complaint at the end of each day is that they weren't able to give the best possible care to their residents because there were too many call lights going off at once and that they didn't have the time to simply sit down and talk with a resident who was lonely or sad."

The new rules also require nursing homes to post their daily staffing ratios where the public can see them, and report those numbers to the state on a quarterly basis.

Rick Bennett of AARP Oregon, who serves on the commission, says it should mean 500 to 700 additional nursing and nursing assistant jobs in the state, but not all at once.

"The reality is that even if we wanted to implement these new staffing levels in full tomorrow, we couldn't because there actually aren't enough trained CNAs to fill all of those positions. So it's being phased in."

Facilities will have the next few months to become fully staffed.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR