SEIU 1199 New England nursing home workers celebrated after Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act into law, marking the end of a successful three-year battle.
The landmark law sets minimum staffing requirements, raises quality care standards for nursing homes in the state, and secures funding to increase wages for direct caregivers and to recruit and retain a qualified workforce. Dovetailing with the nursing home bill, McKee also signed into law a bill to raise the state's minimum wage from the current $11.50 an hour in increments up to $15 an hour by 2025.
Prior to the new standards, Rhode Island ranked 40th in the country for the average number of hours nursing home residents receive, at just 3.32 hours. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the dire consequences of short staffing for both workers and residents of long term care facilities in Rhode Island, and the state ranked third in the nation for the highest percentage of COVID-19 nursing home deaths earlier this spring.
“If they feel like giving you 15 residents a day . . . altogether you could have 40 minutes a day per resident,” said Adelina Ramos, a certified nursing assistant in her facility’s dementia unit. “You have to rush through the day to get that many residents done, and you only have an eight hour shift.”